A former Walker County teacher who was investigated in 2016 for child molestation was arrested in Alabama on Wednesday for allegedly producing child pornography in the late 1990s.

Here is a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Northern District in Alabama:

"A 54-year-old Muscle Shoals, Alabama resident was arrested on September 27, on a federal criminal complaint charging him with producing child pornography, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town of the Northern District of Alabama.

"According to the complaint affidavit, between Aug. 1, 1997, and Oct. 15, 1998, Charles Mark McCormack used a minor, born in or about 1992, to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography, by surreptitiously videotaping the minor urinating in a bathroom in his residence.

"The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

"The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations is investigating this case with the cooperation of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Trial Attorney William M. Grady of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Fortune of the Northern District of Alabama are prosecuting the case.

"This investigation is a part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc."

May 2016 investigation in Walker County

In May 2016, McCormack was under investigation by federal authorities after being accused of child molestation in the past, according to Walker County Sheriff’s Department records.

At that time, Sheriff Steve Wilson said his department assisted with the investigation of McCormack, a Chattanooga Valley Elementary kindergarten teacher.

Wilson said his department was in contact with the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which consists of various federal and local agencies in the state of Georgia.

McCormack had been investigated twice before May 2016 for crimes involving children, but there was never enough evidence to prosecute the teacher, Wilson said.

On May 25, 2010, a Chattanooga Valley Elementary student’s mother said her child told to her that McCormack had called the child to his desk. The parent alleged the teacher then allowed her youngster to play a game on his computer while he used his phone’s camera to take photographs under her dress.

McCormack was investigated for sexual exploitation of a minor after the mother made the claim.

The sheriff’s department and local district attorney tried for criminal prosecution against McCormack, but there was not enough physical evidence for a prosecution for sexual exploitation of a minor, Wilson said.

McCormack was allowed to continue his job as a teacher at Chattanooga Valley Elementary.

In January 2015, McCormack was investigated again, this time for child molestation when a kindergarten student said McCormack allegedly placed his hands down her pants and offered her candy as a reward. The child was interviewed by the Child Advocacy Center.

Wilson said the case was fully investigated, but there was not enough physical evidence to proceed with criminal prosecution and the case was dropped.

In a press release, Walker County School Superintendent Damon Raines said McCormack has not been in the classroom since the onset of the most recent investigation in May 2016 and that he, McCormack, would not be returning to the school for the remainder of the school year, which ended May 20 of that year.

Current investigation

Here is a story from WAFF-TV 48 News in Huntsville, Ala., by reporter Lauren Scharf:

"MUSCLE SHOALS, AL (WAFF) - A Muscle Shoals man is in federal custody following the discovery of an 8mm video tape showing a young child's genitals.

"An affidavit filed by Homeland Security states Charles Mark McCormack is under investigation for sexual exploitation that occurred between August 1, 1997 and October 15, 1998.

"Investigators say McCormack's former girlfriend and coworker discovered the videotape when it fell from his briefcase. The document states the woman took the tape and watched it because of McCormack's 'weird reaction.'

"In September 2016, federal authorities received the video. Special Agents state McCormack can be heard adjusting the camera and speaking to the child before she entered the bathroom. According to investigators, the child in the video was wearing a t-shirt from a Colbert County school.

"Investigators say they have found the child from the video and the alleged victim, now an adult, confirms they were the child in the video.

"McCormack will remain in federal custody until his detention hearing. That hearing is scheduled for October 2."

Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at jobryant@npco.com.