SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Cassville high school teacher was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for a sextortion scheme involving dozens of child victims that were coerced into sending him pornographic images and videos.
Brandon Lane McCullough, 31, of Branson was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison without parole. Additionally, McCullough will spend the rest of his life on supervised release following his time in prison. He must also pay $204,199 in restitution to one of his victims.
“This defendant, a high school teacher, pretended to be a teenager online in order to prey upon young victims across the country,” said U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore. “He victimized 11 children who have been identified and many more who have not yet been identified, in a horrific sexploitation scheme.”
McCullough taught business at Cassville High School at the time of the offense.
A federal investigation into McCullough began on February 14th, 2020 after a New Jersey mother learned her 14-year-old daughter, ‘Jane Doe’, was having sexually explicit conversations with someone over the social app, Kik.
Doe’s mother contacted the local police department, from which a NJ detective called federal authorities in Missouri after tracking the account down to McCullough.
In this incident, McCullough began chatting with Jane Doe back in May of 2019 while posing as a 15-year-old over the app. He then blackmailed the victim with sexually explicit images she sent, threatening her that he would send them to her family and friends if she would not send more.
This victim contacted another user for help, who was actually McCullough again posing as a 17-year-old boy, and was told to meet the blackmailer’s demands.
A year later in May 2020, a search warrant was executed at McCullough’s home. Hidden under a basket inside a bathroom sink in the basement, law enforcement found a hard drive containing dozens of Kik folders containing chats, images, and videos of child pornography.
Investigators have yet to identify all of the victims found on the hard drive. This activity began at least as early at November, 1st, 2018, authorities believe.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the Florham Park Borough, New Jersey, Police Department.