School bus driver in jail on child porn charges

Eric Cravey
Posted 8/3/17

A Clay County School bus driver is in the Clay County Jail today after an investigation found he was in possession of child pornography.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested Marion …

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School bus driver in jail on child porn charges

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A Clay County School bus driver is free from the Clay County Jail after posting $125,039 bond in the wake of an investigation that found he was allegedly in possession of pornographic images and videos of children.

 

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested Marion “Keith” Nichols, 56, of Green Cove Springs on Aug. 2 on 13 counts of possession of photographs and videos depicting the sexual performance of a child after an investigation.

According to the arrest warrant, police began the investigation on May 14, 2017 after receiving a “cyber tip.” Police first interviewed Nichols on May 26 where detectives asked him if child pornography was on any electronic devices that he owned. Police also asked Nichols if he ever downloaded any child pornography. His answers to both questions are redacted in the warrant that was furnished to the media, however, a day later, on May 27, detectives sifted through Nichols’ trash looking for clues.

“Inside of the discarded trash were envelopes/letters with the subject’s name and address. There were also numerous electronic devices in the trash,” states the warrant.

Investigators reviewed electronic devices seized from Nichols’ trash and found images dating from September 2016 through December 2016. Police then took the images to Emmanuel Pena, M.D., a physician at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville who also serves on the First Coast Child Protection Team.

“Doctor Pena examined the images collected and stated he believed several of the lewd images of the females are children,” states the warrant. “…and rendered the opinion that some of the images are child pornography.” On July 28, police obtained a search warrant they would use to go to Nichols’ home on Ron Road and search for more images.

Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis said Nichols is suspended from his job pending the outcome of the CCSO investigation. The district hired Nichols in 2008 after an extensive background check required for all employees. His last assignment as a bus driver included a route with a monitor, which means another adult was on the bus, according to a district press release.

“As a district, we are shocked by the allegations regarding Mr. Nichols as well as devastated if found true. The District would like to reassure families and staff that at no time during the employment of Mr. Nichols were there any concerns relating to the current charges brought to our attention. We will continue to partner with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office as they lead this investigation,” Davis said.

Nichols, who placed himself in the public eye in 2016 as a write-in candidate for Clay County School Superintendent, is also active in the local union that represents service personnel within the Clay County School District. He often appears at each monthly school board meeting, often speaking from the podium regarding issues facing fellow bus drivers and other non-teacher personnel.

“At this point, we just learned about this. Obviously, if the allegations are true, it’s a horrible thing. We’re not going to make any official comment at this time until we have more information,” said Betsy Reagor, service unit director for the Clay Educational Support Personnel Association.

“This type of crime will not be tolerated. We have made several arrests involving explicit images of children. My detectives often work closely with Homeland Security Investigations on child exploitation cases. This is a serious problem and we are cracking down on those who commit heinous acts on our kids,” said Sheriff Darryl Daniels.

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