A former head baseball coach and teacher in Birmingham, Ala., has been sentenced to prison for a sex-related crime against a minor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Northern District of Alabama.
U.S. District Court Judge Madeline H. Haikala sentenced 57-year-old Richard Pope to 4.5 years in prison for transferring obscene material to a minor via social media, according to a news release.
“This sentence sends a strong message that those who abuse their positions of trust with our children will be prosecuted and punished,” U.S. attorney Prim F. Escalona said.
Pope was also sentenced to three years of supervised release after he serves his prison time, and he must register as a sex offender.
Pope previously pleaded guilty to three counts of transmission of obscene material to a minor.
According to the plea agreement, Pope was a graphics art teacher and baseball coach at G.W. Carver High School in Birmingham. At the time of his arrest, Pope was in his seventh year at the high school. He taught television production courses and was also the head coach for the Rams’ baseball team. AI.com reported that Pope’s biography said he previously worked as an anchor/reporter at a Birmingham television station and said he was the video director and summer camp director at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church.
In March 2020, Pope messaged a minor on Facebook. During the chats, he engaged the minor in sexually explicit conversations and sent the minor obscene images.
“Pope betrayed the trust granted to him in his position as a teacher and now will pay the consequences for his actions,” FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Felix A. Rivera-Esparra said.
Pope was initially arrested on state charges in September 2020. He has since been indicted on the state charges, but no trial date has been set, AI.com reported.