Former Athens City Schools principal charged with child porn, sex crimes

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WATE) — A former Athens City Schools principal is facing child pornography and child sex crime charges after using a social media app to try to meet with a fictitious parent and child, according to a report from WTVC.

Mark Avery Pickel was arrested Tuesday in North Georgia and faces charges of coercion and enticement of a minor, transportation of child porn in interstate commerce, and interstate travel with intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor.

A Chattanooga Police officer, posing as the mother of an infant daughter, received alarming messages in the app Kik from Pickel.

The officer reached out to an FBI agent on Feb. 3 after Pickel distributed two pictures and two videos of child porn in the Kik group. Pickel also admitted to sending more that day.

The police officer was able to confirm Pickel’s identity when he sent a photo to the officer. The officer was then able to cross-reference the photo through other social media outlets. The two agreed to meet Feb. 11 in North Georgia where Pickel was taken into custody.

Pickel started as a teacher in Polk County Schools in 1997 and resigned there in 2008.

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