Federal prosecutors announced charges Tuesday against a school volunteer in a widening child pornography investigation at a suburban Maryland elementary school that involves students ranging from 9 to 11 years old.
United States Attorney Rod Rosenstein said 22-year-old Deonte Carraway is charged with eight counts of federal violations for the production of child pornography, in addition to state charges.
The new charges detail allegations that Carraway engaged in sex acts with children, and also directed them to perform sex acts he recorded on video.
The incidents allegedly took place at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden, Md., at a church, a pool, a community center and several homes, Fox 5 DC reported.
Rosenstein said Tuesday that the diligence of one family member alerted authorities when they discovered a photo on a child's phone, and immediately reported it to police. Rosenstein told reporters that within 24 hours of that report, Carraway was in custody.
Rosenstein added the incidents involved the children either having sex with the defendant, or with each other, after being prompted or encouraged by Carraway. The maximum sentence for each of those eight counts is life in prison, but the minimum, mandatory sentence was 15 years for each count, up to 120 total years in prison.
Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks also announced six counts filed against Carraway by the state, and those charges relate to the crimes against one alleged victim, Fox 5 DC reported.
"I think it is an understatement to say how absolutely reprehensible the actions are in this case – Mr. Carraway's actions,” Alsobrooks said. “These charges have kept many of us up at night, quite literally. We have heard from this community. They are suffering greatly. This is devastating case."
Prince George's County Police have identified 17 victims, and say there may be more.
Carraway, whose public defender declined to comment on Tuesday, admitted to investigators that he made the videos and told the kids they were part of a club he called "AKA," according to court documents obtained by the Associated Press.
"I know it was wrong. I'm a bad person. I'm no child of God for doing this," Carraway told investigators. "... I know I'm older and I knew it was wrong because kids don't know better and I just lost it and now it don't look good on my part."
Prosecutors said Carraway communicated with his victims and shared the videos on Kik, a messaging app that allows users to hide their identities, and gave the victims usernames for the app.
More than 40 child porn videos have been discovered in the case to date, officials said.
FBI Special Agent Kevin Perkins said at Tuesday’s press conference the agency is still searching for additional victims, and asked anyone with information to call them at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
Carraway, 22, had already been charged with multiple counts of sex offenses and child pornography in Prince George's County, where he is currently being held on $1 million bond.
The allegations against Carraway have already prompted lawsuits and shaken parents' faith in county school administrators.
Two lawsuits, including a class-action complaint, have already been filed against the school system.
According to the complaints, the school's principal, Michelle Williams — who was placed on leave after Carraway's arrest earlier this month — didn't follow up on reports by parents and teachers of predatory behavior by Carraway. When a relative showed an explicit video to Williams, she didn't call police, instead telling the relative to return to the school the next day, the lawsuits say.
Prince George's County, a suburb of Washington, is the nation's wealthiest majority-black jurisdiction.
The school where Carraway volunteered is 56 percent black and 39 percent Latino. Less than 20 percent of students were deemed proficient in reading and math on standardized tests last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.