Parents want answers after teacher arrested on child porn charge

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In a child pornography case that shocked parents, teachers and students at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, the questions have piled up. But, some of the answers are still unknown.

Dozens of parents and some students came to the high school Tuesday to ask those questions and hear from school leaders, federal investigators and a crisis support team.

The U.S. Marshal’s Office arrested Spanish teacher Jeffrey Schmutzler last month, charging him with distribution and receipt of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors. Investigators say he used pictures of students at the high school and digitally inserted them onto photos of child pornography. Investigators say they do not believe any females were involved. They also don’t believe anyone was sexually assaulted or abused. Further, they said Tuesday they don’t believe Schmutzler distributed the photos to anyone, instead keeping them to himself. Investigators said they are sifting through four terabytes of data.

“Kind of just stunned. I considered him my favorite teacher. So, I could kind of talk to him for any situation. It’s just kind of awkward,” said Nathan Prohonic, a junior at the school. He said many students have been talking about the case, wondering if their pictures were used.

Investigators said they are notifying victims as they identify who is featured in the pictures. They said they’ve also found what appear to be fictional letters and stories written by Schmutzler from the perspective of the students whose images were used. Some of the victims include students who have graduated from the school, investigators said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, parents and students also heard from the Keystone Crisis Intervention Team about ways to cope with this kind of stress and options to seek further counseling.

A judge had set Schmutzler’s bail at $60,000. However, the judge is ordering Schmutzler stay locked up, citing his potential to skip his next court date. According to court documents, the judge said “there is a serious risk (Schmutzler) will endanger the safety of another person or (the) community.”

Schmutzler has resigned from his position, effective March 28.

In the days since his arrest, students said school leaders and counselors have come to their classes to offer support and help them handle issues that may develop as they wonder if they can still trust other teachers in the school. No one else has been implicated in the case.

“We feel it’s our job as part of the community to help our students and help our community resolve these issues and get on with these issues and heal,” said Dr. Eric Michael, assistant superintendent for the Chambersburg Area School District.

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