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Colorado Springs teacher arrested for child porn tried to hide evidence during questioning

Arrest documents for Mike Hedges released Tuesday

Local teachers arrest stuns parents...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Police said a Colorado Springs School District 11 teacher currently in custody on a felony charge of possession of child pornography tried to hide evidence during moments when detectives left the room during questioning last week.

Mike Hedges, 44, was charged with class 3 felony sexual exploitation of a child after his arrest Friday. He is a sixth-grade science teacher at Russell Middle School but has since been placed on administrative leave.

According to an arrest affidavit released Tuesday, Hedges had a phone with more than 20 images on it of young children under the age of 8 in various sexual acts and poses.

Police said the images were accessed as recently as last August, and there has been no indication that Hedges took or produced the photos. Investigators also do not believe any of the children pictured were students of his.  

The affidavit said the state's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force got a tip from a company that manages data storage for Verizon mobile users about several folders on the phone that contain hundreds of images. Police found several sexually exploitative images of children in the folders. Police then got a search warrant for Hedges' phone.

When police questioned Hedges at his home, he acknowledged the phone but said he no longer owned it. During questioning, Hedges said he didn't have a phone in his possession, and that it was in a classroom at the school. The affidavit said Hedges asked for a lawyer early in the interview.

The detective left the room for a moment before serving the search warrant and when he returned, he saw Hedges accessing his phone and attempting to delete data. The detective saw a pop-up window asking for confirmation to clear the browsing history, according to the affidavit.

Forensic analysts searched Hedges' phone and found 26 sexually exploitative images of children ages 8 and younger. The phone was also linked to Hedges' email address.

Among the images recovered was a photo of Hedges in what appears to be a classroom setting, with a school class schedule and the words "Mr. Hedges Rules Supreme" written on a whiteboard.

The Colorado Springs Police Department also released the following timeline: 

  • On August 31, 2016, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) sent a CyberTip to CSPD indicating five images of child pornography were uploaded on August 4, 2016, from an electronic device with a specific phone number. 
  • On September 20, 2016, ICAC investigators obtained a search warrant for records of the phones subscriber information through Verizon. This warrant was then served on Verizon and is the first step in the investigative process.
  • On October 6, 2016, Verizon provided the subscriber information. Subscriber information includes names but does not provide information regarding potential employment status or employer information.
  • On December 2, 2016, investigators obtained a search warrant to obtain additional stored digital records relating to this device. This warrant was then served.
  • On July 27, 2017, the requested stored data records were provided to ICAC investigators. Although lengthy, this approximate eight-month timeframe for investigators to receive requested information is not uncommon. Unfortunately, some data storage providers take longer and others refuse to respond. However, the data initially provided was determined to be flawed and was unusable. Investigators requested the company resend the data.
  • On August 21, 2017, we received the correct data which included over 700 photographs and 27 videos. This data required extensive review to determine if there was evidence of criminal events. Once the items were reviewed, a total of two additional images of child pornography were located. During the following months, ICAC investigators worked investigations determined to be a higher priority. These investigations involved suspects actively producing child pornography who continued to victimize children until they were apprehended. 
  • On January 24, 2018, ICAC investigators obtained, for the first time, information that the suspect may be a teacher. Detectives immediately took action to determine additional information regarding the suspect’s identity and employment.
  • On January 25, 2018, ICAC investigators executed search warrants and obtained potential evidence.
  • On January 26, 2018, Mike Hedges was arrested without incident. There is no indication this suspect took or produced these photographs or that the child victims in the images were students of his.

Parents expressed concern about the situation.

"We cried," said Mary Rhoades, the grandmother of a sixth-grade student.  "We all cried.  My granddaughter says she's really having a hard time wrapping her mind around what happened."

Some parents said Hedges previously won District 11's highest award for teaching.

"My son had him as a teacher at Fremont (School) before, then last year here and now this year," Darryl Campbell said.  "So my concern about everything is very high.  How do you prevent something like this?"

According to the affidavit, Hedges and his wife live near the intersection of Barnes and Peterson roads. 

KRDO NewsChannel 13 sent a crew there but no one appeared to be at home.

Neighbors were surprised and saddened by the arrest.

"I guess I am surprised about that," said Todd Mozinski.  "It's a really quiet neighborhood. I guess you just never know who your neighbors are, though."

Andrew Juhl reflected on the situation as he walked his young son in a stroller.

"I'm thinking about the impact it'll have on his family and his friends," he said.  "When you do stuff like that, you think about the impact it's going to have on other people."

Some parents are upset that District 11 didn't inform them of the situation sooner, given that Hedges was arrested Friday.

"I found out from my son," Campbell said.  "Other parents learned of it on social media."

District 11 did not return a call from NewsChannel 13 seeking information about the district's notification policy.

Hedges is being jailed without bond until his first court appearance next on Feb. 7. 

Previous Story

A 44-year-old teacher with Colorado Springs School District 11 was arrested Friday after being found in possession of child pornography.

Mike Hedges was charged with class 3 sexual exploitation of a child and was booked into custody. He is currently being held with no bond.

Colorado Springs police said they first received tips about the incident from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and learned that the suspect involved was a teacher.

Hedges was listed as a sixth-grade science teacher at Russell Middle School, according to the school's website. The district said it is cooperating with Colorado Springs police but didn't give Hedges' current employment status.

The Colorado Springs Police Department olice said it doesn't have any evidence that any students are victims.

On Monday, the Russell Middle School administrative team sent this note to parents of of students:

“Dear Russell Middle School Families,
Please be aware that Mr. Hedges, 6th grade science teacher, has been placed on administrative leave due to a police investigation. We are not able to give any other details at this time due to the impending investigation.
Respectfully,
The Russell Administrative Team”


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