Venue change: State seeks to drop child porn charges against Venable teacher, hand case to feds

Former Venable Elementary School teacher Corey Schock now faces federal charges. Staff photo/inset Charlottesville Albemarle Regional Jail Former Venable Elementary School teacher Corey Schock now faces federal charges. Staff photo/inset Charlottesville Albemarle Regional Jail

One month after Venable Elementary School teacher Corey Schock was arrested on child pornography charges, federal prosecutors are taking over the case.

According to a motion filed March 10 in Charlottesville Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, the state is seeking to drop the current charges against Schock—two for possession of child pornography and one for use of a communications system to solicit child pornography—to make way for a federal prosecution on a single charge, online coercion and solicitation of a minor.

The section of code under which Schock is charged federally is known as the Mann Act, an early 20th century law written to help combat interstate prostitution and human trafficking. It provides for harsher punishment for crimes against minors and encompasses production of child pornography, according to local defense attorney David Heilberg.

The three-for-one trade-off isn’t good news for Schock, since that single federal charge—filed against Schock on March 7 in the Eastern District of Virginia, where his alleged 15-year-old victim lives—carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. The state charges carried a maximum sentence of 15 years, and federal prosecutions are notoriously aggressive, said Heilberg.

“Typically, when you’re charged federally, it’s because they believe they can get a conviction,” said Heilberg, who is not involved with Schock’s case but has handled numerous child pornography cases in federal and state courts.

The recent motion reveals that the FBI has completed its preliminary forensic examination of Schock’s electronic devices, which were seized in the February 10 raid on his Charlottesville home that coincided with his arrest. He is alleged to have “possessed child pornography and to have had explicit contact of a sexual nature with a 15-year-old female through means of a computer webcam,” the motion reads, noting that there is no evidence at this time to suggest that Schock has had inappropriate contact with a minor in the City of Charlottesville.

Schock’s attorney, J. Lloyd Snook, acknowledged in a mid-February hearing that the there is evidence that “if connected up, would tend to establish Mr. Schock’s guilt” on the state charges. Snook did not return C-VILLE’s call for comment on the new charge. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania, who filed the motion, declined specific comment, calling the “entire situation so sad for so many in this community.”

Heilberg said the change in venue means Schock will likely be transferred from the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail, where he has been held without bond since his arrest, to a jail closer to the Eastern District courthouse in Alexandria. His trial will likely be scheduled rapidly, said Heilberg, noting the Eastern District is often referred to as the “rocket docket” and has a reputation as the fastest federal court in the country.

The motion to drop state charges will be heard in Juvenile and Domestic Court on Wednesday, March 12.

 

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