By APRIL GUILMETUnion Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- A former West Running Brook Middle School teacher faces up to a decade in prison after admitting this week to sending obscene cell phone messages and photographs to two of his former students.
Richard Victorino, 33, of Manchester pleaded guilty to all charges on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney John Kacavas announced Wednesday afternoon.
Victorino admitted to carrying on texting relationships with two of his former students and sending obscene matter to them via text messages, including self-photographs, as recently as this past June.
The identity and gender of the former students have not been released, though both were under the age of 16 at the time the text messages were sent, prosecutors said.
One of the alleged victims had been a student of Victorino's while he was a teacher at the Derry Middle School, during the 2008-09 school year.
Victorino had previously worked as a student teacher and substitute teacher at Londonderry Middle School during the 2007-08 school year. Prosecutors said another victim was one of Victorino's former Londonderry students.
The FBI conducted investigations into the matter this past summer, with assistance from the Secret Service and both the Derry and Nashua police departments.
Victorino, who also faces fines of up to $250,000, has been in custody since Aug. 12 and is being held without bail.
Derry Superintendent Mary Ellen Hannon said Wednesday she was initially made aware that one of her former teachers was in some sort of trouble last summer when the FBI began seeking information on Victorino's employment records.
Hannon, like other local school officials, wasn't given specifics of those charges until earlier this week.
"The FBI wasn't very forthcoming," she said, stressing that until very recently she'd been under strict FBI orders not to discuss the case publicly or release any information.
"(Victorino) hadn't been our employee for over a year. We were very surprised by all of this," Hannon added, noting that last she'd heard, Victorino had accepted a teaching position in New York.
"To the best of my understanding, this is the first issue we've had come forward with him," Hannon said, though she declined to release specifics on Victorino's brief employment in Derry. "Obviously, we weren't aware of any issues with him while he was here or in Londonderry."
"You hire people, you interview them, they're fingerprinted and background-checked," she continued. "But you just never know what kind of character someone has. You just don't expect anyone you're relying on to serve as a role model for students would ever cross that line."
Londonderry Superintendent Nathan Greenberg agreed.
In a letter sent home to parents on Tuesday, Greenberg called Victorino's behavior "despicable" and expressed regret that he had been employed briefly in the district as a substitute language arts teacher in 2008.
"Once again, this points out how important it is for all of us, as parents, to monitor our children's usage of all electronic devices and encourage our children to report any inappropriate behavior at once," he said.
Victorino's sentencing hearing will take place on May 2.