Brian Owen Brannen, a teacher at Radium Springs Elementary School who had been assigned to non-classroom duty, was arrested Friday by deputies with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office and charged with one count of sexual exploitation of children after deputies said they found child pornography on a computer in his bedroom. (Special photo)
News conference on Albany teacher's arrest
Capt. Craig Dodd and Lt. Julie Wood, of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, conduct a news conference Monday on the arrest Friday of Dougherty County middle school teacher Brian Owen Brannen. Brannen was charged with one count of sexual exploitation of children after sheriff's deputies found child pornography on a computer in his apartment, Dodd told news media. Dougherty school officials say Brannen is on administrative leave and had not been teaching a classroom before his arrest because of an unrelated issue.
ALBANY — A Dougherty County middle school teacher was arrested late last week after officers received a tip that he was in possession of child pornography.
Brian Owen Brannen, an 8th-grade history teacher at Radium Springs Middle School, was taken into custody and charged with one count of sexual exploitation of children, Capt. Craig Dodd with the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Department said at a news conference Monday. Dodd said additional charges may be filed after the computer is examined by a forensics team.
On Friday, sheriff’s deputies, responding to a tip received by the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit, executed a search warrant at 539 N. Westover Boulevard Apt. 2122 Friday, where Dodd said Brannen was the lone occupant. Sheriff’s deputies found a computer containing “a large amount” of child pornography, according to Dodd.
Dodd said deputies found a desktop computer that was running with a file containing child pornography that was visible. The alleged pornography on the computer was in the forms of pictures and videos, Dodd said.
“Seized at the time of the search warrant was a computer that was on at the time we walked in and had the open file of child pornography on the screen,” said Dodd. “We observed what we had to at the time of the arrest. Pending forensic examination of the computer, he will be subject, probably, to numerous more charges involving the sexual exploitation of children.”
According to Dodd, during an interview with officers, Brannen said he had worked as an 8th-grade teacher at Southside Middle School for a number of years before he recently transferred to Radium Springs Middle School, where he taught 8th-grade history classes.
R. D. Harter, director of media relations for the Dougherty County School System, said that while Brannen was employed as a teacher by the school system, he was not currently in a classroom and had been reassigned to Radium Springs Middle School in an administrative support role.
Harter said that Brannen had come under scrutiny for administrative issues not related to the current child exploitation charge that led to his being transfered from his previous school. After his arrest Friday, Brannen was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, Harter added.
“Of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but he will not be in a classroom or around children facing charges like these,” Harter said. “We’re just glad to have the help of the sheriff’s office and all local law enforcement in helping to uncover things like this and help us protect our children.”
Asked if any of the material in Brannen’s possession was tied to his job as a teacher, Dodd said there was no way to know at this point in the investigation, but that school system officials had been notified of the arrest.
“That’s always going to be a concern anytime (there’s an arrest like this),” said Dodd. “We don’t have any proof of it at this time. The superintendent of school’s office has been notified (of the arrest).”
In addition to the computer seized at the apartment, deputies also found three pipes, two in the occupant’s bedroom and one in the kitchen, that appeared to have marijuana residue on them. No drugs were found during the search, however, and Brannen has not been charged with any drug-related offenses.
At the time of the search of the apartment, Brannen was the apartment’s only occupant and the desktop computer was found in his bedroom, although he told deputies the computer did not belong to him.
There is no evidence linking anyone else to the apartment or the computer, but the investigation is still ongoing Dodd said.
Although child pornography cases in Dougherty County are not as prevalent as they are in larger cities, Dodd said the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office deals with several every year.
“I don’t know if we get a lot but we get quite a few every year,” Dodd said. “It’s probably one of the worst crimes I can think of. You have an innocent child being taken advantage of and used by adults for sexual purposes. It’s unforgiving. There’s a special place in Hell for people like that.”
Dodd said Brannen had a previous simple battery charge on his record. Brannen is currently being held at the Dougherty County Jail awaiting arraignment.