Upper Marlboro resident and former Prince George’s County Public Schools bus driver Scott Smallwood pled guilty to producing child pornography.

“A vigilant citizen reported the discovery of child pornography, and remarkable detective work by police and federal agents resulted in the rescue of an abused child,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. “This case demonstrates the value Project Safe Childhood brings by joining local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and making it a priority to identify unknown abused children and prosecute pedophiles who abuse them.”

On March 15, 2010, the 29-year-old Smallwood left a cell-phone memory card at a 7-Eleven in Clinton, Md. A patron found the card, saw the images and videos of inappropriate contact between an adult male and minor and immediately contacted law enforcement.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and Prince George’s County Police officers returned to the 7-Eleven where the memory card was found to get request a copy of the surveillance video. ON the video, they saw Smallwood and a then 7-year-old boy.

Authorities interviewed the boy who told them that Smallwood was the night bus driver for the school system and that Smallwood would also take him to church on occasion. He said that Smallwood would invite him over for sleepovers and sometimes after Smallwood would have inappropriate contact with him, Smallwood would offer him candy.

On May 21, 2010 Smallwood was arrested. He admitted that he’d engaged in inappropriate contact with the boy on several occasions and recorded it with his cell phone. Federal authorities say that when they searched his home, they seized notebooks with charts and lists with the particular sexual contact and who it was with stories about sexual encounters between minors and adults.

In addition to that, a life-size child doll was taken from Smallwood’s bedroom.

According to the plea agreement, the doll was dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, sweatshirt and boy’s underwear covering up faux genitals made of wadded up socks.

Child molestation has become a hot button issue given the Penn State and Syracuse University scandal. In this instance, Federal authorities expressed their commitment to finding and prosecuting anyone who engages in these actions.

“Child predators targeting our most vulnerable members of society is a serious matter and even more disturbing when it involves a school bus driver,” stated Special Agent in Charge William Winter of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Baltimore. “HSI is committed to apprehending individuals who sexually exploit our children and deprive them of their innocence. We will continue working with federal, state and local agencies to investigate such reprehensible actions.”

Smallwood faces 15-30 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for June 5.

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO