HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — A former kindergarten teacher in Hillsboro pleaded guilty in court after law enforcement found a photo the teacher took of a student using the restroom.
According to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, Brett Howard Cunningham, 41, pleaded guilty to first-degree invasion of personal privacy and first-degree encouraging child sexual abuse on Jan. 12.
Cunningham was employed as a kindergarten teacher at Orenco Elementary School in Hillsboro when the Oregon Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received a cybertip that he was accessing child pornography in his home in Multnomah County.
“In May of 2020, Portland police executed a search warrant on the house and seized the defendant’s devices,” said prosecutors with the Washington County District Attorney’s Office. “He admitted they would find four images and videos depicting child pornography but claimed they were not for sexual purposes. Mr. Cunningham was charged in Multnomah County for possession and duplication of that child abuse material.”
In addition to the four images and videos Cunningham acknowledged, investigators also found a photo he took of a student using the restroom at Orenco Elementary School in Washington County.
The photo depicts intimate areas of the child’s body and is taken from an angle such that Cunningham would have to be hidden from view when he took it, according to prosecutors. They added that the victim was identified by police and no other students were impacted.
“The Washington County District Attorney’s Office wishes to acknowledge the work of the Oregon Department of Justice and the Portland Police Bureau on this case. Mr. Cunningham also agreed to plead guilty to two charges of first-degree encouraging child sexual abuse related to the Multnomah County case,” said the agency.
Cunningham resigned from his position at Orenco Elementary on Sept. 14, 2020, according to the Hillsboro School District.
“The safety and wellbeing of our students is our top priority, and we have zero tolerance for behaviors that could jeopardize students’ welfare,” the district said in an email statement KOIN 6 News that had initially been sent to Orenco Elementary School parents in September 2020.
A sentencing hearing for Cunningham is scheduled for Feb. 3.