A city elementary school teacher arrested on child pornography charges on February 10 will remain behind bars unless a forensic psychologist can determine that he poses no risk to himself or others if released on bond, Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Jay Swett ruled in the second of two back-to-back bond hearings Wednesday.
More details of the case emerged earlier in the day, when Juvenile Domestic Relations Court Judge Edward DeJ. Berry denied release for 43-year-old Corey Schock, a well-loved fourth-grade teacher at Venable Elementary. A prosecutor said Schock had “explicit sexual contact” with a 15-year-old girl via webcam, and had a history of other inappropriate communications going back two years.
“The court has evidence that, if connected up, would tend to establish Mr. Schock’s guilt,” defense attorney J. Lloyd Snook conceded during the first bond hearing, specifically citing “a series of text messages, purportedly between Mr. Schock and a 15-year-old girl in Northern Virginia that were, to say the least, inappropriate.”
Schock submitted to a polygraph, “and he has admitted the essence of these offenses,” said Snook, “but he adamantly denies any physical touching with anyone, anywhere.”
The purpose of the hearing, said Snook, was to determine whether Schock would be a danger to himself or the community if he were released ahead of trial, and he believed the answer was no.
Schock’s wife said she was prepared to eliminate Internet access at the home where she lives with their two daughters, ages 11 and 14, and password protect her own cell phone to satisfy concerns about her husband’s access to the Web. She said Schock, who was scheduled to see a psychologist next week, posed no danger to himself or others, and had the support of his extended family and friends who were ready to come stay with the family if needed.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Joseph D. Platania argued Schock needed to stay behind bars.
“This is a case where the Commonwealth couldn’t disagree more with Mr. Snook’s position,” said Platania, who told the court he was in possession of additional evidence the court had not yet seen: images from Schock’s phone, details on the nature of his chat and video exchange with the girl, and “over 100 pages of communications with other perhaps similarly situated individuals that go back two years.”
“There’s specific language in them that we think the court should see,” Platania said.
Judge Berry did see it—but not before media was asked to leave the chambers. Afterward, Berry announced his decision to deny bond, saying he’d allow for reconsideration if the local office of Child Protective Services was consulted.
Snook immediately appealed, bumping the case to the Circuit Court, where Schock appeared in person before Judge Jay Swett shortly before the court adjourned for the day. Swett indicated he’d agree to release Schock on a $250,000 bond if a forensic psychologist determined he didn’t pose a threat—and only if no phones or computers in Schock’s house could access the Internet.
“I do think he is entitled to be released under the statute,” said Swett.
Platania declined to comment on Swett’s decision.
Schock was not without his supporters during the day’s proceedings. His parents, who live in Allentown, Pennsylvania, joined Christ Episcopal Church Rector Paul M. Walker in the juvenile court lobby during the hearing.
“I’m here in support of Corey,” Walker said. “He was my son’s fourth grade teacher. He is a wonderful teacher and a wonderful human being, and I would hope that all of us who have been so deeply touched and affected by his love for our children would show him and his family unconditional love and support.”—With reporting from Courteney Stuart