Substitute teacher arrested in child porn case taught at 6 Santa Rosa schools

A substitute teacher who was arrested Thursday on suspicion of possessing child pornography had worked at six Santa Rosa schools over the past two months, officials said.

Ethan Monroe Morse, 39, worked at Montgomery and Santa Rosa high schools, Cook and Slater middle schools, and Hidden Valley and Monroe elementary schools in September and October, said Jason Lea, assistant superintendent of human resources for Santa Rosa City Schools.

Lea said he informed administrators at each school Monday morning so that they could alert students’ families. Morse was barred from further jobs Thursday, after the district was informed of the investigation.

Morse had recently started working as a substitute teacher in Sonoma County and had 10 assignments, all in the Santa Rosa district, said Steve Herrington, county superintendent.

Morse was arrested at his Camellia Court home by federal immigration agents and Sonoma County sheriff’s detectives who said child pornography was found on his cellphone.

According to authorities, Morse sent photos of girls aged approximately 9 and 10 to a woman by text message. None of the photographs was pornographic, but he made sexual comments about them to the woman, authorities said.

The woman called a national tip line and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department’s Child Exploitation Investigations Unit began looking into the case in early October.

Asked why school administrators or families weren’t notified immediately after the district learned about the arrest, Lea said, “At that point we’d only been given a little bit of information from law enforcement, and we wanted to make sure we had all the right information.”

It appears none of Morse’s alleged crimes are related to his work for the district, Lea said.

“From my knowledge there‘s nothing that connects the investigation to our school sites,” Lea said. “Hopefully, if the information they have is correct, it was not connected with any of our sites, except that he was a substitute teacher.”

Source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/4637392-181/substitute-teacher-arrested-in-child