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Shepherdstown teacher faces sex charges

December 19, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- A 51-year-old Jefferson County Schools teacher is in federal custody, charged as the result of an Internet sex sting conducted by police in Virginia, according to records filed in federal district court in Alexandria, Va.

Shepherdstown Elementary School art teacher Douglas E. Hunt of Charles Town on Wednesday waived his right to a preliminary hearing on felony counts of enticement of a minor and (interstate) travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, according to an affidavit and documents filed with the court.

Hunt was denied bond in a detention hearing held by U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rawles Jones Jr. Further proceedings will be held before a grand jury, records show.

The court concluded "there is no condition or combination of conditions that will reasonably assure the defendant's appearance as required and the safety of the community," according to a detention order signed Thursday by Jones.

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Hunt was arrested in Leesburg, Va., on Dec. 4, less than 24 hours after responding by e-mail to an advertisement on Craigslist.org that offered "fun times" with a 38-year-old woman and her two daughters, according to the affidavit filed by FBI special agent Chad Gallagher.

The ad, titled "my2 gurls and me - 99 (ctown/leesbrg/hf)," was posted by Leesburg Police and Loudoun County (Va.) Sheriff's department detectives, according to the affidavit.

In e-mails with detectives beginning Dec. 3 at 7:33 p.m., Hunt said he was married and had to be discreet about meeting the woman and her 12- and 13-year-old daughters, according to the affidavit.

Hunt used a phone at Shepherdstown Elementary School to call the woman less than two hours before driving to the parking lot of the Hampton Inn & Suites along Fort Evans Road in Leesburg, Va., to meet her, according to the affidavit.

Leesburg Police Detective Lisa Kara posed as the woman, according to the affidavit.

"Are you still cool with $200 for both of (the girls)?" Kara asked Hunt just before he gave her $220 in cash in the hotel parking lot, according to the affidavit.

Hunt was arrested shortly after he began walking toward the hotel entrance after Kara had given him a room key and told him where the girls were staying, according to the affidavit.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Susan K. Wall said in a press conference Friday morning that she did not expect Hunt to return to the school where he had taught full time for 11 years. A permanent substitute teacher has been assigned to teach Hunt's classes. Hunt also has coached the Jefferson High School varsity boys soccer team since 2004.

No personnel action has been taken by the Jefferson County Board of Education, and Wall could not comment on his employment status Friday.

A letter mailed to parents of the approximately 300 students at Shepherdstown Elementary School indicates the alleged misconduct did not involve Jefferson County students.

Like with any teacher's extended absence, Wall said she wanted to inform the public about the situation. She also noted the school district's cooperation with police in the criminal investigation.

"It is surprising, and it's a situation that as a (school) system, we don't like to have to deal with, but we will take appropriate action," Wall said.

Any questions or concerns should be directed to school principal Suzanne Offutt or Assistant Superintendent Patrick W. Blanc, officials said.

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