A Pennsylvania substitute teacher and track coach is under arrest on child pornography charges.
According to the attorney general’s office, Peyton William Harris, 20, of Mifflintown faces seven counts: (1) Sexual Abuse of Children – Photographing, (2) Sexual Abuse of Children – Dissemination, (3) Sexual Abuse of Children – Child Pornography, (4) Invasion of Privacy, (5) Corruption of Minors, (6) Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor, and (7) Carrying a False Identification Card.
Harris was employed as a substitute teacher at two high schools — Juniata High School and Newport High School — and was the assistant manager for the track team at Juniata High School, the AG’s office said. Both of those schools are less than an hour drive northwest of Harrisburg in the central part of the Keystone State.
The dates of employment are listed in a probable cause affidavit as beginning in February 2021 and continuing through the 2021 and 2022 track seasons, but elsewhere the document suggests that the defendant may have been involved with the track team during the “2020-2021 school year.”
“The investigation found that Harris hosted a party at his home where he furnished alcohol to minors using a false identification card,” the AG’s office continued. “The complaint alleges that during the party, Harris captured photographs and videos of minors engaged in sexual activity without their knowledge or consent, and shared them with other individuals on social media.”
According to a copy of the criminal complaint, at least one of the recordings depicted a person “in a state of full or partial nudity” in a “place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
A probable cause affidavit says the state police learned of the alleged crimes on April 25, 2022.
“[A] juvenile student . . . at Juniata High School was engaging in a sexual relationship with Peyton William HARRIS,” that affidavit says of the tip which led the authorities to commence an investigation.
That student allegedly said during a police interview on April 29, 2022, that “he and the DEFENDANT had kissed in approximately July of 2021.”
The affidavit says the student further told the police that the defendant “had multiple nude photos and videos” in his possession. In one instance, the defendant allegedly “recorded” the complaining student having “sexual intercourse with a female without either party’s consent.”
The defendant is also alleged to have taken photos of a student “measuring his own penis with a ruler.”
Some of the images were transmitted on Snapchat, the affidavit asserts.
The complaining student was allegedly 16 years old when the incidents occurred.
A search warrant for the defendant’s phone was subsequently obtained; the phone was seized accordingly.
In an April 30, 2022 police interview, the defendant allegedly admitted that he bought alcohol using a fake ID, took pictures of the complaining student “running around the house naked,” took videos of the complaining student “engaging in sexual intercourse with one of the females at the residence,” and recalled “taking a picture of [the complaining student] as he was measuring his penis with a ruler,” according to the affidavit.
The defendant claimed he sent the pictures to the complaining student but not to anyone else, according to the court paperwork.
School administrators were notified of the situation on May 3, 2022, the affidavit says. The document also alleges that two females corroborated to the state police that a party occurred at the defendant’s house on July 20, 2021, and that the defendant provided those in attendance with “a variety of alcoholic beverages.”
A subsequent search warrant was obtained for the defendant’s Snapchat account. That warrant revealed that offending materials were “sent to various Snapchat users on various dates,” the state police asserted via the affidavit.
“Mr. Harris was trusted to take care of and empower minors, and instead he exploited them,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a press release. “These charges are very disturbing. My office has a zero tolerance policy for abuse of children, and will prosecute the defendant to the fullest extent of the law.”
The AG’s office would like anyone with information regarding Harris to contact Trooper Micheal Short of the Pennsylvania State Police at Lewistown. The phone number is 717-320-1010.
A copy of the criminal complaint is below:
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