A Philadelphia middle school teacher has been sentenced to nearly 39 years in prison for catfishing his students and sharing their explicit photos.
Andrew Wolf, who taught eighth grade math at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, compiled spreadsheets of his students social media accounts to share with pedophiles seeking child pornography, federal investigators found.
In June, Wolf, 42, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of Pennsylvania to eight counts of child exploitation in connection with a scheme to manipulate and catfish children online, including some at the private school where he worked.
Federal court filings show, U.S. District Court Judge Mark A. Kearney sentenced Wolf to 466 months in prison on Thursday, to be followed by five years of probation. Court documents show he must also register as a sex offender.
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Here’s what else court papers show:
- Wolf, who court papers show is also known as Ashley Hamilton, is from Philadelphia.
- He was a middle-school baseball team coach, decorated educator, and a mentor to boys at the school.
- A co-defendant in the case, Kray Strange of Carthage, NY, also pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of Pennsylvania in June to the charges. Court records show she is slated to be sentenced March 31.
- Wolf and Strange, who was 20 when she entered her plea, were indicted last February on charges including conspiracy to manufacture child pornography and manufacturing child pornography.
The duos charges stem from crimes federal officials said took place over a one-year period. According to a 14-page criminal complaint, the following took place between May 2020 and October 2021:
- Wolf and Strange developed and carried out “an elaborate online child exploitation catfishing scheme, in which they impersonated minor girls” to entice their victims to self-produce and send them sexually explicit images.
- Wolf provided identifying information for his own middle school students to Strange.
- Strange then targeted them online.
He spent hours communicating over encrypted messaging apps, collecting explicit photos and videos of young boys and writing short stories detailing horrific sexual assaults of children that he posted on internet forums, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The outlet also reported:
- Wolf quickly began expressing a sexual interest in his students – who ranged in age from 13 to 15 – in online conversations with men interested in child pornography.
- One of the men went by the screen name “Mr. Pickles” and claimed to be a teacher.
- Wolf shared photos of what he described as third and fourth graders at the school, appending a message to the group: “Worth raping.”
‘A well of shame’
During his sentencing hearing, Wolf was confronted in court by the mother of one victims, the Inquirer reported.
The woman said her son, a once affable and popular teen, fell into a well of shame after discovering that nude photos he’d thought he’d sent to a teenage girl were instead in the possession of his math teacher, who’d shared them with other pedophiles over the internet, the outlet reported.
“He spiraled into depression and self-harm,” the mother said of her then 13-year-old, adding numerous stints in hospitals and suicide attempts followed.
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“Hearing what [you] shared today just broke me,” Wolf said to the woman in court when it came time for him to address the judge. “I thought I’d already come to understand … But I’ll think about this every single day.”
“A teacher facilitating the sexual exploitation of his young students is the stuff of parents’ nightmares – and an instant priority for the FBI,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “We’d urge adults to remind the kids in their lives that not everyone is who they say they are online.”
Mental health and crisis resources
If you or someone you know needs mental health support, contact the national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.
Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.