Ex-Va. teacher Ricks pleads guilty to child porn, gets 25 years
Friday, March 4, 2011
Kevin Ricks, the former teacher who molested a Manassas high school student, pleaded guilty Thursday to seven new federal charges of producing and possessing child pornography, ensuring that one of the region's most notorious sex offenders will spend significant time in prison.
The plea, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, came as part of a deal to secure a long sentence for Ricks and spare several victims from having to testify publicly at trials.
Law enforcement officials said Ricks, who had a decades-long teaching career, has agreed to a 25-year prison sentence for creating explicit photographs and videos of teenage foreign exchange students he hosted in his home and of students he taught in Japan. Much of the abuse occurred while the teens were passed out after Ricks had provided them with large amounts of tequila. More than a dozen teenagers say they were molested by Ricks or targeted by him.
Prosecutors called Ricks a dangerous sexual predator who got teenagers to trust him. "He joined their churches, their youth groups," U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said. "He took up tennis, sports. He took them to concerts. His M.O. was to use his considerable charms and charisma to get their defenses down, get them drunk and then sexually assault them. He was a master manipulator."
The federal charges stem from specific incidents in Virginia and Maryland - where Ricks taught at high schools - and from West Coast journeys Ricks took with several students.
Ricks acknowledged his actions in a series of recent interviews with The Washington Post. "I have to concede," Ricks said, "I never considered for a minute that these were children. But I did take these pictures. . . . I've done enough to warrant the time."
On Thursday, Ricks stood before U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris as the charges were read.
When asked how he pleaded to each count, Ricks replied "guilty" seven times.
As part of the agreement, Ricks agreed to be subject to a lifetime of supervised release on some of the charges.
The charges against Ricks followed a Washington Post investigation in July about 10 boys who were molested by Ricks or suspect that they were being targeted by him, dating to the late 1970s. The investigation also outlined how Ricks was able to move among teaching jobs with barely a blemish on his record despite suspicions by authorities.
MacBride said several people suspected that Ricks's behavior was inappropriate, but there wasn't enough evidence for charges or Ricks moved without it affecting his record.
"There was smoke everywhere this guy went," MacBride said, "and most folks didn't call it in to the fire department."