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May 20, 2022

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Camas man gets 4½ years for child porn

He had worked as paraeducator in Evergreen schools

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

A Camas man who had previously worked as a paraeducator was sentenced to nearly 4½ years in prison Monday for possession of child pornography.

Richard Blakesley, 63, pleaded guilty in October in Clark County Superior Court to three counts of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He was originally charged with four counts.

Blakesley had previously worked as a paraeducator for Evergreen Public Schools and Portland Public Schools, assisting students with special needs, court records show.

A pre-sentence investigation states Blakesley resigned from his Portland job after he was caught viewing pornography on a school computer. It did not say when he resigned or whether it was adult or child pornography. He worked for Portland Public Schools for about 17 years, court records state. While employed there, a female student had accused Blakesley of making her feel uncomfortable, but he returned to work once the district determined her allegation was “baseless,” the investigation states.

He was hired by Evergreen in October 2019 as a paraeducator assigned to Harmony Elementary School, according to the school district. When schools moved to remote learning in March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blakesley was furloughed for the rest of the school year. He was not rehired for the 2020-2021 school year because classes began remotely, district spokeswoman Gail Spolar said in an email.

Spolar said the district cooperated with law enforcement when contacted about Blakesley in December 2020 and that he had passed all required background checks before his hiring.

“Evergreen Public Schools takes the safety and security of students and staff very seriously,” Spolar said in an email. “All individuals, prior to starting employment, must pass both a background check and FBI fingerprinting, as well as mandatory training.”

The principal at Harmony Elementary School told investigators she was not aware of his disciplinary history with the Portland district when he was hired. She said Blakesley had contact with three students while employed, two boys and one girl. She did not see anything indicating a sexual interest in children, she told investigators, but he had other job performance issues.

The pre-sentence investigation states Blakesley agreed it was wrong of him to have the images but often said he didn’t seek them out and denied victimizing the minors in the images.

He told the judge Monday, “I do have remorse, not only for the crime itself, but remorse and regret over my oath as a mandatory reporter that I had for many years, and I feel bad for betraying that oath.”

A Vancouver Police Department Digital Evidence Cybercrime Unit detective was assigned Dec. 1, 2020, to follow up on three tips possibly related to Blakesley, according to a probable cause affidavit. Google submitted all three tips, which had to do with child sexual abuse imagery.

Blakesley was found to be associated with two email accounts that uploaded 30 files of suspected child sexual abuse imagery to the internet through Google, according to the affidavit. His phone number was also tied to one of the email accounts, court records say.

The investigator wrote in the affidavit that he found a LinkedIn profile indicating Blakesley may work for Evergreen Public Schools.

A Camas police officer called Blakesley on Dec. 3, 2020, and arranged for him to come to the police department. Blakesley arrived that same day and was placed under arrest, according to the affidavit.

Blakesley confirmed that the two email addresses associated with the imagery were his, and he “knew what this was about,” the affidavit says.

He told investigators someone emailed him the child sex abuse images, but he never shared them, according to the affidavit.

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