WORCESTER (CBS) – A Southbridge middle school teacher was charged Tuesday with using an Internet messenger service to allegedly set up webcam shows featuring young girls from the Philippines.
Peeler, 53, of Worcester, was arrested on Tuesday and faces one federal charge for receipt of child pornography and two for attempted coercion of a minor.
According to a federal affidavit, Peeler is accused of using a Yahoo Messenger account to set up webcam shows involving sex acts performed by minors.
According to court documents, Peeler used money transfer services and at least four times tried to arrange live video sex shows involving children from 4 to 14 years old.
Investigators said Peeler worked with a third party to set up the webcam shows between April and December of 2013 and March and July of 2014.
During a search of Peeler’s home, investigators found child pornography.
The Worcester resident allegedly admitted to police that the email and messenger addresses used to solicit the webcam shows were his, but he said he had never purchased any videos.
Charges of coercing and enticing a minor call for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in jail and up to life in prison.
Receipt of child pornography charges bring mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail, with no longer sentence than 20 years.
Peeler appeared in court on Tuesday and will be held until his detention hearing on Thursday at 10 a.m. in Worcester’s federal court.
Southbridge Public School officials released a statement on Peeler’s arrest Tuesday afternoon.
Today the Southbridge Public Schools was made aware of Federal charges involving a school department employee. The Department of Justice informed the School Department that the employee was being charged with attempting to purchase live video sex shows involving Filipino children. The School Department is extremely alarmed by these charges and has taken immediate steps to ensure the safety of our students. We have placed the employee on administrative leave, ensured that the employee is not currently involved in any summer programming, and have requested a no trespass order through the police department. In addition, we are cooperating fully with all Federal and local law enforcement agencies as this investigation continues.
School officials said there will be a community meeting next week at the Southbridge Middle/High School.
The meeting will included representatives from local and federal law enforcement agencies who will answer questions from the Southbridge community.
No specific date or time for the meeting has been released.
One of Peeler’s neighbors told WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton that his arrest came as a major surprise.
“I was very shocked. I’m surprised. You don’t know who’s living next door to you really,” the woman said.