The Brush School District has reinstated a top administrator at the middle of a controversial student sexting case, saying the man had been “vindicated” of alleged wrongdoing when a district judge last month dismissed eight counts of child pornography against him.
The school district’s board Oct. 17 unanimously voted to reinstate Scott Hodgson, 38, director of secondary schools and one of two administrators who had been accused of possessing child pornography when they investigated a tip about students trading explicit images.
Thirteenth Judicial District Judge Charles Hobbs threw out the case against Hodgson, saying the administrator had acted in good faith and thought he was complying with district policy.
Bradley Bass, assistant director of secondary schools, was also charged with four counts related to sexual exploitation of a child. His case is scheduled for a hearing before Hobbs Nov. 21.
The administrators came into possession of the images in April when they investigated a tip reported through Safe2Tell, a confidential app that sends information to both the school and local police. The tip went to Jared Barham, a police officer who acts as a liaison with the school district, Brush Police Chief Derek Bos has said. Bos learned about the tip about two weeks later when Barham asked a question related to the case.
Hodgson and Bass found sexual images on several students’ phones, stored in SnapChat, a disappearing photo app. Bass used his work cellphone to take photos of the students’ phones to document which boy had which images. The photos were then transferred to a school server that only a few district employees had access to. The administrators have said they didn’t just confiscate the phones because they worried students could remotely log into their SnapChat accounts and delete the images.
When police learned that administrators had taken the photos, they began investigating Hodgson and Bass, 31. No one has accused either man of retaining the images for sexual gratification or other nefarious purposes.
Knowingly possessing any explicit images of kids is child pornography, no matter the intent, under state law. Law enforcement officers investigating are one of the few exceptions to the rule.
Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney Travis Sides has said state law is clear on the issue and that his office disagreed with the judge’s decision. He said Friday he did not plan to appeal Hodgson’s case. His office does not plan to drop charges against Bass.
“We’re starting to get the point in the case (where) a lot of the facts are being revealed,” Hodgson said Friday. “I personally will feel a whole lot better when Bradley’s case ends in the same result.”
The district is slowly bringing Hodgson back into his position. He’s expected to fully return to on-campus work by Oct. 27 at the earliest. Some administrative changes will be made, including that employees besides Hodgson will become the primary people responsible for dealing with student discipline.