A Charlottesville, Virginia man has been sentenced to 276 months in prison for production of child pornography, which was announced by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen of the Western District of Virginia and Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Washington, D.C. field office.
Richard “Rick” Wellbeloved-Stone, 57, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia to one count of production of child pornography.
Senior U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon presided over the sentencing and ordered him to serve a lifetime of supervised release following his prison sentence.
Wellbeloved-Stone, a high school teacher in Charlottesville, was discovered by law enforcement after chatting online with an undercover agent from the United Kingdom about sexually abusing a young child.
A search warrant executed at Wellbeloved-Stone’s home recovered several images of child pornography produced by Wellbeloved-Stone of at least two young minor victims.
Investigators uncovered evidence of the former environmental science teacher at Charlottesville High School (CHS) molesting a young girl, taking pictures of it, and sharing videos of other children having sex.
Wellbeloved-Stone had also taken more than 100 up-skirt and down-shirt pictures in his CHS classroom between the period of 2012 to 2014.
“As a high school science teacher, the defendant held a position of great trust in our society – a trust he abused when he produced horrific images of young children,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.
“Today’s sentence reflects the unwavering commitment of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners to combat child pornography and to hold offenders accountable for their deplorable crimes.”
“This defendant, through his heinous acts, betrayed the trust of the Charlottesville community,” said U.S. Attorney Cullen.
“We are grateful for the hard work of our federal, state, and local law-enforcement partners in bringing him to justice and making our community safer.”
“Child predators are the worst type of criminals,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Lechleitner.
“They prey on innocent children for their own self-gratification.”
“While we can’t undo Wellbeloved-Stone’s actions, today’s sentence ensures he can’t victimize anyone else.”
Charlottesville City Schools released the following letter following the sentencing.
Dear CHS families—
We’re writing to let you know that today was the sentencing hearing for former CHS environmental sciences teacher Rick Wellbeloved-Stone, who pled guilty to producing child pornography.
One part of the evidence included photographs taken at CHS during the timeframe of 2012-2014.
These photographs appear to have been made in his classroom during the school day without students’ knowledge. The police have worked to notify impacted families when possible.
Law enforcement has maintained a 24/7 tip line in case anyone has information relating to this matter. The number is 866-347-2423.
We have cooperated fully with law enforcement, and we will host a police information session at CHS later this week to answer further questions.
We are sorry that this violation of trust occurred in our school, and we are also sorry to relay unsettling news.
But we want to give you the facts that are now available as part of our ongoing commitment to be honest and supportive of our community and families.
Charlottesville City Schools
This case was investigated by HSI Washington, D.C., the Charlottesville Police Department, the Virginia State Police, the Albemarle County Police Department and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section’s (CEOS) High Technology Investigative Unit.
(Learn about Sextortion and keeping kids safe online. Courtesy of the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood and YouTube.)