A student and a teacher at Northwest High School were arrested Tuesday on charges related to child pornography.
The Northwest student is 17-year-old Max Rookstool. The teacher arrested was Brian Mohr, 37. In a statement released Tuesday, Northwest Superintendent Jeffrey Edwards said Mohr will not be returning to the classroom.
The arrests resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Grand Island Police Department.
“The arrests are in relation to a case in which the 17-year-old male obtained illicit images of minors via a social media ruse, and used some of those images to coerce them into performing sexual acts,” says a release from the Grand Island Police Department. “Those images were shared with Mohr. Numerous images have been identified as students at the school where Mohr is employed and the 17-year-old attends.”
Police Capt. Jim Duering would not elaborate on the social media ruse, “other than we know that it used alias social media accounts.”
Rookstool, who is being charged as an adult, will turn 18 on May 29.
In the complaint filed in Hall County Court Tuesday afternoon, Rookstool is charged with two counts of human trafficking, two counts of human trafficking of a minor, one count of first-degree sexual assault, 11 counts of visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct and one count of unlawful distribution of images or videos of another person’s intimate area. The alleged crimes took place between Aug. 1, 2018, and Oct. 4, 2019. Of the 17 charges, 16 are felonies.
According to the Grand Island Police Department, Mohr was arrested as a suspect in multiple counts of possession of sexually explicit material (child pornography).
Edwards issued a news release, saying that on Tuesday “law enforcement informed Northwest Public Schools of an ongoing criminal investigation into Brian Mohr, a teacher in the district. Student safety is the highest priority at Northwest, and the district has been and will continue to work cooperatively with its law enforcement partners. The district will be providing support services and counseling for students. Although the district is unable to comment on any specifics due to student confidentiality and personnel privacy laws, Mr. Mohr will not be returning to the classroom.”
“This is an ongoing investigation, and is being worked with the full cooperation of the Northwest School District,” the Police Department news release says. “If you, or someone you know is affected by this case or as a part of any online exploitation, it is important that you know you are not alone, and that you can contact the Grand Island Police Department at (308) 385-5400 or the HSI anonymous tip line at 866-DHS-2-ICE or https://www.ice.gov/tipline.
“It is important to know that potential victims in this activity are not alone,” GIPD says. “The Grand Island Police Department and HSI will continue to work toward keeping the youth of our community safe, and will have Victim Advocates in place to assist persons affected by this case.”
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Operation Predator was launched in 2003.
A press release from ICE on Tuesday noted that the Northwest student was arrested in an “alleged child exploitation scheme.”