A 24-year-old man who worked as a substitute teacher at two schools in Merrimac, Massachusetts, has been arrested and arraigned on child pornography charges.
Kenneth Niven pleaded not guilty in Newburyport District Court Tuesday to possession of child pornography and photographing an unsuspecting nude person, the Essex County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Merrimac police discovered two alleged images of child pornography on Niven's phone, prosecutors said.
Pentucket Regional School District Superintendent Justin Bartholomew sent a message to families after he was contacted by Merrimac police to inform them of the "deeply troubling matter."
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Bartholomew said Niven had worked as an "on-call" sub at two schools in the district, the Dr. Frederick N. Sweetsir School and the Helen R. Donaghue School.
Following the "allegations of illegal conduct," Niven was fired and barred from all school property in the Pentucket Regional School District, which includes schools in the communities of Groveland, Merrimac and West Newbury, the superintendent said.
"We are outraged and disturbed by the allegations presented," Bartholomew wrote, "and we pledge to continue to assist in whatever way we can with the police investigation."
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The superintendent shared that the investigation is in its early stages, and he didn't have more details to immediately release, but noted that Niven had been given a pre-employment background and criminal record check prior to starting as a substitute in the district.
Bartholomew said the Pentucket Regional School District is cooperating fully with the Merrimac Police Department and the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, who are actively investigating the allegations against Niven. Their investigation is ongoing.
Niven's bail was set at $15,000 and he was ordered to stay away from and have no contact with persons under 18. He also cannot use social media.
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for July 19 in his case. Attorney information for Niven was not immediately available.