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Former teacher indicted on child-pornography charges

A former teacher/band director has been indicted by a grand jury on charges related to child pornography in McDuffie County.

Grand jurors returned a two-count indictment charging Philip Bradley Pirkle with one count of violation of the computer electronic pornography and child exploitation prevention act, court records reveal. The second charge is of sexual exploitation of children.

The 32-year-old Mr. Pirkle, who resides on the 400 block of Johns Road, Thomson, was taken into custody by agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at his home back in February of this year. He later was released from the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center after posting $50,000 bail.

After the once-popular band director at Thomson Middle and Thomson-McDuffie County Junior High schools became the focus of an ongoing investigation by the GBI and local sheriff's department, Mr. Pirkle resigned his position from the McDuffie County School System in July 2009. He had been employed with the school system for nine years.

On July 20, 2009, GBI agents served Mr. Pirkle with a search warrant and seized various items as evidence that might link him to having had inappropriate communications with a 14-year-old girl, according to Gary Nicholson, the agent in-charge of the GBI Region 7 Office in Thomson at the time. Mr. Nicholson since has retired.

"The communications were of a sexual nature and it was discussed that they wanted to meet each other for sex," according to Charles Kicklighter, GBI case agent. The comment was made in court documents -- copies of which were obtained by The McDuffie Mirror .

A criminal investigation was launched against Mr. Pirkle after the girl's mother informed the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department that her daughter had been on Myspace - communicating with a schoolteacher. The woman identified that teacher as being Mr. Pirkle, records show.

Web posted on Thursday, August 12, 2010

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