Parkway substitute teacher indicted on child porn charges

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by Maggie Crane / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Updated Thursday, May 3 at 10:32 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- A tennis coach from a North St. Louis County school, who was also a substitute teacher in the Parkway School District, has been federally indicted for possessing child pornography.

It's certainly easy to fear the worst in a case like this, but U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan says no local students were victims in the child pornography.  He says more charges -- both federal and state -- are possible.

The federal indictment reads like a horror tale to parents:  a teacher and coach admitting to sharing child pornography online for several years.

Federal agents say Richard Ambler, 49, told them that he preferred boys 12 to 16 years old, which is unsettling news for parents at Lutheran High School North where Ambler coached boys tennis.

"I'm totally shocked," Norman Holman said.  "We had no idea.  Nobody has heard anything about it.  It's the first I've heard of it, so I'm just stunned."

So is the school.  Ambler was in his second season with the tennis team when the school got a call from the FBI on Friday.  Ambler was fired.         

"He did go through all of our screenings that the Lutheran High School Association requires of all coaches, and he passed all of those," Association President Tim Hipenbecker said.  "We have not had any issue in terms of that."

Promptly after our interview, the school started a mass phone call alert to parents.

Ambler was also a substitute teacher at middle and high schools in the Parkway district since 2009, but he's now lost that job too.  Both districts say Ambler had passed full background checks, which makes sense because he hadn't been caught yet.

That allegedly happened in February and April when an undercover federal agent in Maryland said he found Ambler sharing child porn online.  The agent said Ambler used the screen name "Shyboi1111" and admitted to owning more than 1,000 pictures and videos.  Court records state that Ambler also admitted to exchanging nude photos with people claiming to be underage on Craigslist personal ads.

"At least parents can take some comfort in the fact that there's no evidence at this point that any students were victimized," Callahan said.

State charges could also surface.  According to the affidavit, Ambler also admitted to attempting to molest an 11-year-old friend of his son during a sleep over at his Florissant home in 2008.

Callahan says federal agents seized Ambler's laptop and a hard drive, both of which are still undergoing forensic testing to scour for more images and evidence.  The federal investigation is not over.


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