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Former teacher arrested on child pornography charges

THOMSON, Ga. --- A former band director who was a 2009 Teacher of the Year at Thomson Middle School was arrested Wednesday on child pornography charges.

Philip Bradley Pirkle, 32, of the 400 block of Johns Road, Thomson, was charged with two counts of computer pornography and child exploitation, according to Gary Nicholson, special agent in-charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Office.

Pirkle was a popular instructor at Thomson Middle and Thomson-McDuffie County Junior High schools before he resigned in July. GBI agents arrested him at his home Wednesday, and Magistrate Judge William Bryant Swan Jr. set bond at $50,000. He was being held in the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center.

In a news conference, Nicholson said additional charges could be filed, and federal authorities could become involved.

School Superintendent Jim LeBrun said when he learned last year that Pirkle was under investigation, he called him in for a meeting at which time the teacher resigned.

GBI agents secured a warrant and searched Pirkle's home last July 20 in an attempt to find evidence that might link him to having inappropriately communicated with a 14-year-old girl.

"The communications were of a sexual nature and it was discussed that they wanted to meet each other for sex," according to GBI Special Agent Charles Kicklighter in court records related to the warrant.

The girl's mother told the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department that her daughter had been on MySpace, communicating with a schoolteacher, whom she identified as Pirkle. The case later was turned over to the GBI.

Web posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010

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