A Wake County judge denied a request Thursday to lower the bond amount for a high school English teacher who is facing multiple charges of possessing child pornography.
District Court Judge Ned Mangum told Kevin Christopher Chamberlain, an English teacher at Holly Springs High School, that he could spend more than 36 years in prison if he is convicted of the five counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor that he has been charged with.
Chamberlain, 43, made his first court appearance Thursday following his arrest the day before at his home on Purple Leaf Road in Fuquay-Varina. The officers used a search warrant to seize evidence of child pornography.
Chamberlain became the target of a criminal investigation in November. Investigators have accused him of downloading online files that include photos and videos of preteen and teenage girls in various nude poses in a “lewd and lascivious manner,” according to the arrest warrant.
Raleigh attorney Phillip Anderson made a limited court appearance Thursday on behalf of the mild-mannered, bespectacled teacher, who was outfitted in orange-and white jail garb.
“I’m going to hire my own attorney, sir,” Chamberlain told Mangum.
“Do you have the money to do that?” Mangum asked.
“Yes sir,” Chamberlain replied.
Anderson asked Mangum to lower Chamberlain’s bond from $180,000 to $50,000 and electronic house arrest. The attorney told the judge that Chamberlain has been married for 10 years, works with Wake County public schools and has a mother who lives in Holly Springs. Anderson also pointed out that Chamberlain does not have a prior criminal record and has fully cooperated with the police.
Wake prosecutor Melanie Shekita told Mangum that Chamberlain’s bond was well within state guidelines. She said investigators are trying to identify one child who is seen in one of the videos seized from Chamberlain’s home.
Although Chamberlain has been cooperative, Shekita said, the $180,000 bail should remain in place “given the severity of the crime and until we get to the bottom of this.” She also pointed out that there is a minor child in the Chamberlain home and that the case is now under investigation by Wake County Child Protective Services.
Mangum asked whether any of the victims were students at Holly Springs High. Shekita answered that there is no indication that any of the students at the school were in the photos or videos, but that the victims were about the same age as the students Chamberlain taught.
In addition to not lowering Chamberlain’s bond, Mangum ordered him not to have contact with any child under age 16 unless there is an adult present.
Chamberlain was suspended with pay from his job on the day of his arrest, said Lisa Luten, a Wake County schools spokeswoman.
Holly Springs High Principal Brian Pittman informed parents of Chamberlain’s arrest in a letter. “This employee has been suspended pending the completion of the criminal investigation and our own internal investigation,” the letter said.
As he was led out of the courtroom Thursday, Chamberlain turned back to his wife and silently mouthed, “I love you.”