Paul Zachary Wakeman
Photo provided by Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office

By Aila Boyd
aboyd@ourvalley.org

 

A trail date of May 20 has been set for Paul Zachary Wakeman, a former agriculture teacher at James River High School.

He was arrested on March 5 after being directly indicted on three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was later released on a $5,000 bond.

Multiple search warrants were executed in December as part of an investigation into “inappropriate behavior” involving students. According to the warrants, Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office investigators were looking for information related to allegations that Wakeman had “requested several images of the students in a state of undress.”

The matter involving Wakeman was started following the Sheriff’s Office being notified by Social Services about alleged incidents involving a staff member of the high school. An investigator from the Sheriff’s Office spoke with a student at James River High School on December 6, 2018 who advised that Wakeman had requested several images of the student in a state of undress, including being shirtless and wearing only underwear.

One of the warrants was issued to the Law Enforcement Response Team at Facebook on December 13, seeking data from the Instagram account zwakeman from July 1, 2015 to December 7, 2018 that showed “causing or encouraging acts rendering children delinquent, abused, etc.”

Another warrant issued for a Facebook account returned no data due to the account having been deleted.

An additional search warrant was issued for a home located at 501 2nd Street in Buchanan in search of electronic devices that might show recent contact and/or images of children in a state of undress. The following items were seized: a cell phone, a laptop, an iPod, an external hard drive, and nine flash drives, according to the search warrant.

A closed School Board meeting was held by Botetourt County Public Schools several days following the notification delivered from Social Services to the Sheriff’s Office. During the meeting, the School Board voted to accept the resignation of a certified staff member. The decision to seek the revocation of the certified staff member’s teaching license through the Virginia Department of Education was also made.

According to a license query search conducted on Monday afternoon on the Virginia Department of Education’s website, Wakeman still holds a teaching license with an agriculture education endorsement. The search indicates that the license is a collegiate professional license and will not expire until June 30, 2020.

Wakeman’s name does not appear on a list of teachers who have had their license revoked, suspended, cancelled, denied or revoked since 2000 by the Virginia Department of Education. The list was last updated on March 20. In fact, not a single teacher from Botetourt County appears on the list. Since 2000, 565 Virginia teachers have had action taken against their licenses.

Court records indicate that Wakeman is currently residing in Toms Brook, Va.

The May 20 trial will take place in Botetourt County Circuit Court in Fincastle at 1:30 p.m.

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