A Lauderdale County teacher was arrested Wednesday morning on a charge of of possession of child pornography.
The arrest of 58-year-old Stephen Risher was made by investigators with the Attorney General's Office Cyber Crime Unit, with help from the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office, as part of Mississippi's Internet Crimes Against
Children ask Force.
Risher, of 874 Bonita Drive, was a music teacher for Southeast High School and Middle School.
When Lauderdale County School officials learned of Risher's arrest, they took immediate action, according to superintendent Randy Hodges.
"Mr. Risher has been placed on suspension without pay, cannot be back on the campus until this is all settled," said Hodges.
Hodges said the district is disappointed in the arrest. In the meantime, he says the schools are focusing on students' safety.
"As a school district, we do everything in our power to be proactive and prevent these kinds of things from happening because the number one thing is safety, for the school board, school district, all of us," said Hodges. "It's a priority, safety is. We do everything that we possibly can to ensure that our children are able to attend school in a safe environment."
According to Hodges, child pornography was not found on any school computers. It was discovered on Risher's personal computer.
"We also did an in-school investigation and checking Mr. Risher's computer for example," Hodges said. "And we have not found anything that would have been of concern school-related."
Hodges says the school and the district checked Risher's background as they would when hiring any other teacher. By the looks of his references, this incident was unexpected.
"That's checking references and checking background," said Hodges. "Certainly we are required by law to do that and we did, and there was nothing that was a red flag that would cause us to have any concern."
Risher is charged with five counts of possession of child porn. His bond was set at $125,000 bond, or $25,000 for each count.
The attorney general's office says the penalty for possession of child porn is five to 40 years per count in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. If convicted, Risher faces up to 200 years behind bars.
The Lauderdale County School District released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying Risher was immediately suspended without pay after his arrest.