Alabaster resident, a substitute bus driver, arrested on child porn charges

FROM STAFF REPORTS

An Alabaster resident and substitute bus driver for Shelby County Schools was arrested by the FBI today on child pornography charges.

Michael Wayne Wooten, 60, was charged with receiving child pornography and with possessing a computer, computer disk and other material containing child pornography.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley announced the arrest in a press release.

Wooten was arrested in Bessemer, the release stated, following a joint investigation by Birmingham police and the FBI.

Wooten, a former security officer for Birmingham City Schools, appeared this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert R. Armstrong, who scheduled a detention hearing for Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Wooten qualified for a bus-driving license with Shelby County this year after passing all pre-employment requirements, including a criminal background review, according to a Shelby County Schools official, the release stated. Wooten has substituted on 21 days since school started Aug. 11, the school official said.

“This investigation uncovered sexually explicit photographs we believe were taken in a studio Wooten set up in a closed Birmingham school building,” Vance wrote in the press release. “Not all victims shown in the photographs have been identified, and the investigation continues.”

Vance asked anybody with information on the case to call the FBI at 1-866-372-0209.

According to an FBI affidavit supporting the arrest complaint, results of a forensic examination of Wooten’s computer were received by investigators in October and showed graphic pornographic images of at least five girls who appear to be under age 12.

The pictures show the children involved in sexually explicit conduct, including images that depict Wooten engaging in actual or simulated sexual intercourse, according to the affidavit.

The pictures appear to have been taken in the office of Dupuy Elementary, a closed school building in the Birmingham City School System, according to the affidavit.

Wooten worked as a security officer for Birmingham City Schools from July 1997 until May 2011. In that capacity, he did not have unsupervised access to students, according to Birmingham Schools spokeswoman Michaelle Chapman.

Wooten told investigators in April 2010 that he shared the office at Dupuy Elementary School with another security guard. Wooten said he set up a studio at the office to photograph children in order to build his art portfolio, the release stated. A Birmingham Police officer and an FBI agent searched the office in April 2010 after law enforcement was alerted that Wooten had taken a 9-year-old girl to the empty school and photographed her in several outfits, including sexually explicit costumes, the affidavit states.

In the search, the officers found five plastic bins containing girls’ clothing, including dresses, bathing suits and thong underwear, the release stated.

Only the 9-year-old girl has been identified and interviewed by law enforcement, according to the release. Investigators are looking to identify the other children in the photographs, and any other children who might be victims in the case.

Birmingham Police and the FBI investigated the case, with assistance from Birmingham City Schools’ security. Hoover and Alabaster police assisted in today’s arrest.