The longtime band director at the Academy for Academic Excellence (AAE) in Apple Valley has been arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography.
Ken Sockwell, 63, was arrested shortly after noon Friday by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department “specialized/homicide” unit, according to booking records. Authorities arrested Sockwell on suspicion of possessing or controlling material that “depicts a person under 18 years of age personally engaging in or simulating sexual conduct.”
Booking records list the arrest location as the Lewis Center for Educational Research, which operates AAE, a charter school that serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Sockwell was released shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday, according to booking records that show he paid an unspecified bail amount before being released to “self”; however, another section of the same records lists him as “ineligible” for bail.
Sheriff’s spokesperson Mara Rodriguez told the Daily Press on Monday afternoon that Sockwell’s “bail at the time of booking was set at $25,000.”
It appears that Sockwell has not yet been charged with a crime. San Bernardino County court records offered no information Monday afternoon in connection to Sockwell’s arrest. The crime listed in booking records is a felony punishable by a maximum of one year in prison and a $2,500 fine, according to California Penal Code.
“He will have a future scheduled court appearance,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know what that date will be.”
Lisa Lamb, president and CEO of the Lewis Center, said in a statement that “throughout this individual’s time at the Lewis Center, school officials had absolutely no knowledge of any improper conduct occurring at AAE or concerning any of our students.”
Lamb said Sockwell is no longer a Lewis Center employee. He had been a teacher there for at least 20 years before his termination, she said.
“Upon receiving a concerning report of possible misconduct, we took immediate and swift action,” she said.
The Lewis Center “will continue to work closely with law enforcement” and “communicate with the community and our AAE families as we are able to do so,” Lamb said.
Lewis Center employees “must pass a rigorous criminal and background reference check,” according to Lamb. She said “additional resources have been committed at this time to increase counseling and social-emotional supports for our students.”
Sockwell’s tenure at AAE included leading students from the band program to numerous performances at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, according to a 2016 Daily Press report.
AAE is one of two charter schools operated by the Lewis Center. The second, the Norton Science & Language Academy, is located in San Bernardino.
This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Charlie McGee covers the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities for the Daily Press. He is also a Report for America corps member with the GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and around the world. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.