Birmingham teacher sentenced to prison for transferring obscene material to minor

BIRMINGHAM β€” A federal judge last week convicted a Birmingham teacher of transferring obscene material to a minor, U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Acting FBI Special Agent in Charge Felix A. Rivera-Esparra.

United States District Court Judge Madeline H. Haikala sentenced Richard Pope, 57, of Birmingham, to 54 months in prison followed by three years of probation. As a condition of his probation, Pope must register as a sex offender in accordance with the Sex Offenders Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Pope previously pleaded guilty to three counts of transmitting obscene material to a minor.

According to the plea agreement, Richard Pope was a graphic arts teacher and baseball coach at GW Carver High School in Birmingham. In March 2020, Pope messaged a minor on Facebook. During the conversations, Pope engaged the minor in sexually explicit conversations and sent the minor lewd images.

“This conviction sends a strong message that those who abuse their position of trust with our children will be prosecuted and punished,” Escalona said. “My office, along with our law enforcement partners, will work to ensure that our schools are always safe for our children.”

FBI Birmingham Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force investigated the case with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John M. Hundscheid and R. Leann White prosecuted the case.

“The pope betrayed the trust placed in him in his position as a teacher and will now pay the consequences of his actions,” Rivera said. β€œThe public can be assured that the FBI will always be vigilant in pursuing those who choose to prey on our most vulnerable, especially our children. I am proud of the work done by the The Birmingham FBI Child Exploitation Task Force and our partners at the FTA for bringing Pope to justice.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Criminal Division, Project Safe Childhood brings together federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information on the Safe Childhood Project, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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