The now-former Kanawha County elementary school counselor recently accused of possessing child pornography has pleaded not guilty.
Todd Roatsey, who visited the White House in 2016 after being named West Virginia’s Elementary School Counselor of the Year, was charged and indicted earlier this month. He most recently worked at Pinch Elementary and resigned from the school on Nov. 15.
He pleaded not guilty Monday in Charleston in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Dwane Tinsley. John Carr, Roatsey’s Charleston-based attorney, declined comment Monday.
Tinsley said Roatsey’s trial will be at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 19 in front of U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr.
In Roatsey’s indictment, the grand jury accuses him of, around Oct. 28, knowingly having child pornography images and videos in a folder on the desktop of his Acer laptop.
According to the criminal complaint that preceded the indictment, a search of a phone Roatsey had on him also turned up conversations that “appeared to be with girls in the age range of late elementary school through middle school.”
The complaint didn’t explain the content of these conversations or whether they involved Kanawha students. The indictment doesn’t mention them. Roatsey has not been charged with sexual assault or manufacturing child pornography.
The complaint said that, around Aug. 22, Kik Messenger app representatives reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a Kik profile had uploaded child pornography a month earlier.
Terrance Taylor, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security special agent who wrote the complaint, said he reviewed the tip in September, and the investigation led to the charge.
Attendees of Monday’s hearing said “Love you, Todd,” as he was led back to jail after his plea.
“He would never hurt a kid, never touch a kid,” said Bridget Browning, one of the attendees. She said Roatsey was her children’s counselor.
Kanawha schools spokeswoman Briana Warner said he was last at Pinch Elementary on Oct. 27, and the school system learned about the investigation and charge the following week.
Roatsey worked at Pinch since around 2012 and previously worked at Harts Primary School in Lincoln County for four years. He had also worked as a substitute teacher.