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Missouri school board member faces child porn charges

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- Child porn was found on a southwest Missouri school board member's electronic devices while authorities were investigating reports that he exposed himself to students, according to federal court documents filed Friday. The U.S. attorney's office said John Lewis, 67, of Sarcoxie, was arrested before Thursday night's Sarcoxie school board meeting and charged Friday with possessing child pornography. He remains in federal custody, pending a detention hearing. U.S. attorney's spokesman Don Ledford said Lewis doesn't yet have an attorney. An FBI affidavit said Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers contacted Lewis while investigating reports that he exposed himself to a group of high school students who were working for him on his farm outside Sarcoxie. Troopers obtained a search warrant and seized two desktop computers, a laptop computer and electronic storage devices. Investigators who searched the devices found 19 multimedia files of child pornography and 113 images of suspected child pornography showing children as young as five years old. According to the affidavit, the investigation began after a school official overheard a conversation between high school students, one of whom confirmed he was present at the board member's farm when Lewis exposed himself in close proximity to another student. Two students, both 16 at the time of the incident, told investigators that Lewis talked to them about sex and inappropriately touched them while they were working for him at the farm in late spring last year. Investigators who executed a search warrant at Lewis' home said he became adversarial and "was found to have a very large weapons collection." The district said in a written statement that it's cooperating with the investigation. "Nothing is more important to the district than providing a safe and secure learning and working environment for children," the statement said. "We welcome the support of the community during this process."

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