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Retired educator pleads guilty in child pornography case

Conditional plea agreement calls for a sentence from 6 to 24 months

Retired and noted Wright State University education professor James K. Uphoff pleaded guilty Thursday to one federal count of possession of child pornography after investigators found 550 pornographic images and two videos on three of Uphoff’s computer devices.

Court documents indicate that investigators found at Uphoff’s residence hundreds of printouts depicting images of naked teenage boys and young adults either in bondage or pornographic poses. Investigators found also on Uphoff’s personal computer devices hundreds of erotic stories of adults engaging in sexual acts with children and children engaging in sexual acts with other children.

Uphoff, 76, is the latest area educator to face allegations of inappropriate behavior involving young people. In the past year, at least six area high school teachers have been accused of inappropriate and/or criminal relations with students. Former longtime Kettering School Board member James Trent was charged last month of sexual imposition after he was accused of grabbing the buttocks of a 22-year-old woman.

Ohio Department of Education statistics show that sex-related complaints against teachers have steadily declined from 100 in 2008 to 80 in 2009 to 65 in 2010 to 43 in 2011 before rising to 47 in 2012.

The conditional plea agreement calls for Uphoff’s prison sentence to be between six and 24 months. Uphoff pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice of the Southern District of Ohio in Dayton. Uphoff will be sentenced on Jan. 21.

Rice can accept the plea deal or reject it. If Rice rejects the agreement, Uphoff could withdraw his guilty plea. The maximum sentence for a conviction on this charge is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Uphoff likely will have to register as a sex offender.

“He accepted responsibility for his actions,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy Muncy said. “I think a sentencing range of six to 24 months was a fair resolution to this given his overall history.”

Uphoff was released on his own recognizance and ordered to surrender his passport.

His defense attorney, John Rion said: “The marvelous thing about human dignity is that no man is as bad as the worst thing that he has done. Dr. Uphoff is eager to move forward with his life.”

Uphoff retired as a WSU professor of education after a 45-year career, which included serving as associate director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. He also was elected president of both the Oakwood Board of Education and the Ohio Education Association.

Court documents show that around Uphoff’s retirement from WSU in September 2012, employees at the campus Paul Laurence Dunbar Library found stories about teenage boys having sex located on a printer and copier that were later retrieved by Uphoff.

Records show a routine search of the computers Uphoff used contained explicit pictures of young males. A Greene County Court issued a search warrant and later, Oakwood Municipal Court issued a search warrant of the home he shares with his wife. The complaint was issued Aug. 6.

Further examination of the computers Uphoff used found 20 images of computer-generated images of child pornography and seven images of child pornography art. Court documents said Uphoff accessed numerous websites with suspected child pornography and that more than 1,000 e-mails were sent and received, many including erotic stories involving sex with children. Some of the printouts indicate they came from social forum websites from as early as 2005.

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