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Pace Academy teacher charged with possession of child porn

8:17 PM, Oct 29, 2012   |    comments
(AP file)
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ATLANTA -- A teacher from Pace Academy has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography.

A letter that was sent to parents from the Atlanta private school Monday afternoon, said middle and upper school fine arts teacher Joey Villemez had been arrested and charged in conjunction with a multi-year federal investigation.

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School officials said they learned of on Monday.

Villemez was terminated from his employment with Pace upon the school learning of the charges, according to the letter, which was signed by head of schools, Fred Assaf. 

Villemez had been employed at the school for the past seven years.

The school says they will be meeting with students in the middle and upper schools on Tuesday to discuss the matter.

According to school spokesperson Caitlin Goodrich, the school's statement is the letter itself, which is posted below. 

Dear Parents,

I am writing this email with a truly heavy heart. Earlier today, I was made aware of a very sad and distressing situation involving a Pace Academy faculty member. Middle and Upper School Fine Arts teacher Joey Villemez has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornographic images, which were purchased from his home computer. These images came to light as a result of a multi-year federal investigation, which we learned about today.

Mr. Villemez is no longer employed by Pace Academy. We are cooperating with federal agents as they continue their investigation. I want to stress to you that, according to federal investigators, Mr. Villemez has not involved any current or former Pace students in this situation, and there is no evidence of inappropriate physical contact between Mr. Villemez and Pace students or other children. Mr. Villemez has no record of previous criminal activity.

Our faculty was made aware of the situation immediately after school today, and we will meet with students in the Middle and Upper Schools tomorrow morning. The emotional wellbeing of our students is our primary concern at this time. This news is incredibly shocking and upsetting to all of us in the Pace community, and we know that healing will take time.

We also know that this will be difficult to explain to students, but I believe that it is best to be clear and honest with them. I would advise every parent to use his or her discretion in discussing these matters with their children; however, as much as we might want to shield them from the situation, this may serve as an opportunity to discuss the pervasive issue of pornography in our culture. I also encourage you to bring any concerns to my attention immediately.

We are working with our faculty, counselors and outside experts to ensure that we are prepared to handle any questions or issues that arise as a result of this situation. Please know that our counselors and administrators are available for students and parents with questions or concerns.

We will continue to share pertinent information as it becomes available and welcome questions during this difficult time.

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