A judge dismissed all charges against Scott Hodgson for obtaining child pornography after asserting that he obtained the images he took from students' phones out of good faith and evidence.
In a startling growing occurrence, school teachers and authorities are being charged with sex crimes. But the recent ruling in the case of Scott Hodgson, a Colorado school administrator, is showing how ambiguous some of these cases can be. The employee was charged with eight counts of child pornography, but charges were ultimately dropped because a judge decided he obtained the explicit images in “good faith.”
According to reports from The Colorado Sun, the charges stemmed back to last April. School staff learned that some Brush School District students had been sharing explicit photos of others on Snapchat. Scott Hodgson, the district’s director of secondary schools, confiscated several students’ phones and found images of this nature on the student’s cells.
At that point, Scott Hodgson used his work cell phone to take a photo of the images appearing on the student’s devices. He asserts that he did this since Snapchat’s features erase images after a certain period of time. He decided to document proof of which students had the images out of fear that they would soon be erased forever.
The 38-year-old next transferred the images he took on his phone to a school server that only a few district employees had access to. This included 31-year-old Bradley Bass, Scott Hodgson’s second in command. After their harboring of the images was turned over to authorities, both men were investigated and charged with felonies.
Under Colorado state law, it is illegal to possess explicit images of minors. Even though both Scott Hodgson and Bass allegedly only kept the photos for documentation of which students were sharing the images, it was nonetheless an illegal act. But ultimately, Hodgon’s lawyer was able to persuade a judge that his intent was out of good faith, which led to his dismissal of all charges.
However, local police still feel that Scott Hodgson’s decisions should be punished, as the Brush Police Department Chief Derek Bos expressed disappointment in the judge’s ruling. Some may argue that the administrator’s decision to keep the photos was an overreach. After all, police had already been made aware of the claims at the time that Hodgon took pictures of the photos, which is likely why local police are outraged that he wouldn’t let qualified authorities handle the matter.
But others defend Hodgson, arguing that a lack of proper training on how to handle cases like this may have led to his handling of the case. When many states’ laws regarding child pornography were crafted, technological used today was unheard of. Easily being able to document evidence with a phone was likely not even a thought.
The Brush School District has spoken little about the charges against both Scott Hodgson and Bradley Bass, whose hearing was to be held at a later date. After their arrests, the superintendent sent out a message to families, urging them not to come to conclusions until their cases could be heard. For now, it is unclear whether or not the district relieved the two men from their positions, however, their names no longer appear on the district’s staff website.