An elementary school principal in rural Alaska was arrested by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and later charged with possession of child pornography and sexual abuse of a minor, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.
Christopher Carmichael, who worked as the principal of Gladys Jung Elementary in Bethel, was allegedly caught in the heinous act of attempting to coerce a minor into sexual activity when he reportedly engaged in a text conversation with someone he believed to be a 13-year-old girl — it was actually an FBI agent.
Here’s more from the Anchorage Daily News report:
According to the FBI, the principal sent a series of explicit texts to a phone number that he believed belonged to a 13-year-old girl, asking the girl to masturbate, send him photos and call him “daddy.” At the time of his arrest he’d been planning to meet a child for sex in Bethel, the federal charges say.
… On Dec. 20, Carmichael pleaded not guilty to federal charges of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor, possession of child pornography and attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor. In April, he pleaded not guilty to separate state charges of sexual abuse of a minor. Carmichael’s defense attorney said he had no comment for this story.
The parents of two girls who allege the principal molested them have filed a lawsuit against the district in state court in Bethel. In a legal response to the suit, the school district wrote that no sexual abuse of the girls by Carmichael occurred.
Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Dan Walker told a reporter at the time that he was shocked by Carmichael’s arrest.
“Twice LKSD reviewed the facts and saw nothing that put a child at risk. Not only did I not see it coming, I do not believe that the people who worked directly with Carmichael saw it coming either,” Walker said.
Carmichael had reportedly been the subject of complaints to the police from parents at least two times over the past four years. Nevertheless, Carmichael was allowed to remain on the job as the complaints never ended with charges.
In 2016, Carmichael sent inappropriate messages to a former student, commenting on her “luscious red lips” and “naughty ways” of staying up late. He admitted to sending the messages to the girl who was 14 at the time.
“You can’t escape my all seeing eye! :-)” and “bend you over my knee and whackkk! :),” the principal wrote, according to charging documents.
Two years later, in 2018, an 11-year-old girl alleged that Carmichael looked down at her breasts and then touched them with his hand.
In both cases, law enforcement was notified, Carmichael was placed on administrative leave, and an investigation ensued. But in both cases, no charges followed and Carmichael remained employed.
Why wasn’t he fired?
Many are wondering why Carmichael wasn’t fired regardless of not having been charged due to the fact that he admitted to behavior that, under Alaska ethics laws for educators, could have led to his ouster. He admitted to sending the Facebook messages in 2016, but blamed the regrettable “wording that he used” on medication that he had been taking at the time.
One such person is Susan Murphy, who served as school board president in 2016 when state troopers first investigated Carmichael.
“The relationship between a teacher and child or a principal and a child should be one above reproach,” said Murphy, who complained that the board was not informed about the complaint or the investigation.
“I’d like to know why the hell he wasn’t fired,” she said.