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Ex-Va. teacher Ricks pleads guilty to child porn, gets 25 years
The Post has since found at least five additional victims or boys who think they, too, were being targeted for abuse. They include a young boy Ricks babysat while he was a student at the University of North Carolina in 1981 and another Manassas boy who lived near Ricks at the time of his arrest in February 2010 and thought he might have been the next victim had Ricks not been taken into custody.
Federal prosecutors said Ricks has admitted to engaging in illegal sexual contact with minor boys dating back more than three decades. In a statement of facts filed with the plea, Ricks acknowledged molesting a boy he met at a Charlottesville summer camp in 1979, the 12-year-old boy he met at UNC, multiple victims in Japan, two foreign exchange students he hosted in Danville, Va., and another he hosted in Federalsburg, Md. Several of the victims told The Post that Ricks had given them large amounts of tequila before they were abused.
"After they passed out, he would photograph or film himself performing sexually explicit conduct with the victims," according to federal prosecutors. Ricks also pleaded guilty to one federal charge of possession of child pornography.
Law enforcement officials have said they pursued child pornography charges because they are relatively easy to prove and would not require victims to testify.
Now almost 51, Ricks probably will be in his 70s when he is freed. His earlier conviction for molesting a 16-year-old boy - before Thursday his only conviction for a sex offense - got him a one-year jail sentence in Prince William County and forced him to register as a sex offender, effectively ending his teaching career.
There are outstanding local charges against Ricks in North Carolina and in Caroline County, Md., where Ricks is accused of molesting a boy, but lawyers said in court that the North Carolina charges would be dropped because of the plea. His attorney, Brian Mizer, an assistant federal public defender, is negotiating to also drop the Maryland charges.
As part of Ricks's plea agreement, he must tell authorities about all the boys he has abused during his career, which began in Hampton Roads in 1982 and took him to jobs in North Carolina, Georgia, Japan, Danville, Baltimore, Federalsburg and Manassas. Should he fail to disclose a victim whom police later discover, he could face additional charges.
Ricks, in hours of face-to-face and telephone interviews with The Post, has acknowledged that he behaved "inappropriately" with at least six boys who were in his care. Ricks's extensive journal entries and letters, portions of which were obtained by The Post, indicate that there could be numerous other victims and show that Ricks has long understood that he was secretly crossing boundaries he should not have.
In a recent jailhouse interview, Ricks said that he "idealized and romanticized relationships" with the boys and that his taking of nude photographs while the boys were incapacitated was "the least intrusive thing to do."
He said he now finds his actions "reprehensible."
"The photographs were a way of not being harmful, I thought," Ricks said. "That was my rationalization. Wanting something artistic, intimate, tangible to show we had reached this level of intimacy and had cemented that in our relationship."
But MacBride said the child pornography is not simply "dirty pictures of kids," but "graphic depictions of adults abusing minors and memorializing the abuse forever."