A former New Hope Elementary School teacher was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) on multiple charges of third degree sexual exploitation of a minor on Wednesday.
Stefan Winfried Anders was suspended from his job teaching fifth grade at New Hope and banned from campus by Orange County Schools (OCS) after he was served a search warrant in April.
With the warrant, investigators seized seven cell phones, six computers, over 12 thumb drives and various pieces of camera equipment in the investigation, with three of the seized computers belonging to OCS according to OCSO.
“Reviewing the files stored on these devices is incredibly time consuming,” Ashley Woodlief, the lead investigator on the case, said in a Wednesday press release. “We still have more digital material to process, but at this point, we determined Mr. Anders possessed multiple photographs, the content of which is in violation of the laws of North Carolina.”
Woodlief said that Anders has been charged with 15 counts of third degree sexual exploitation of a minor, a class H felony.
Anders came under investigation after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a cyber tip in mid-February regarding possible child pornography images being shared in the peer-to-peer infrastructure of Bing Image.
The N.C. Bureau of Investigation followed up on the NCMEC tip, establishing subscriber information and location, and then members of the OCSO Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force began an investigation.
According to Woodlief, OCSO is unaware at this time of any OCS students being subjects in any of the photographs.
OCS Chief Communications Officer Seth Stephens said that the school system was not aware of the NCMEC tip until April.
“Today, we learned that a former New Hope Elementary Teacher, Mr. Stefan Anders, was arrested on multiple charges related to exploitation of a minor,” he said. “As soon as Orange County Schools was notified last month that there were possible allegations of offenses by Mr. Anders, administration immediately placed him on suspension and prohibited him from being on campus. Subsequently, Mr. Anders resigned from employment with Orange County Schools. No Orange County Schools students are connected with charges against Mr. Anders.”
Anders was arrested by OCSO deputies Wednesday morning. His first court date was on Thursday. He remains on written promise and a second court date was set for June 14.
OCSO is continuing to review remaining evidence and said that more charges are possible for Anders.
Anyone with any information regarding this case is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at 919-245-2900 or Investigator Woodlief directly at 919-245-2909.