Authorities: Truancy officer sent nude photos via work computer

WOODSTOCK – A former truancy officer for Shenandoah County Public Schools sent nude images of himself from his work computer, authorities say.

Joseph Michael Sheley, 37, of 122 Corral Drive, Stephens City, stands charged in Shenandoah County General District Court with one count of theft of computer services. The class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail. Online court records indicate the alleged offense occurred June 15, 2015. Sheley is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

Lt. Chris Baker, of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, said Wednesday that Sheley worked as a truancy officer for the school division. School division officials contacted the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office on March 31 and asked if they could investigate a situation in which the computer appeared to contain inappropriate images.

“We learned that at some point prior to that Mr. Sheley had quit his job down at the School Board office as a truancy officer to take employment elsewhere and subsequent to that they hired someone else to take his spot,” Baker said. “Of course when you leave your position you leave the equipment, your computer, stuff like that, anything that you’ve been given for that job.”

The School Board accepted Sheley’s resignation March 10, according to meeting records.

“So he left his computer (and) the new truancy officer starts and they open up the computer and discover what appears to be pornographic photographs on the computer,” Baker added. “They immediately notified our office. Upon further investigation we determined that Mr. Sheley had actually posted pictures of himself. He sent pornographic pictures of himself, utilizing his work computer.”

Sheley did not send images to minors, Baker said.

“The initial basis behind our investigation was to ensure that he did not send them to juveniles and throughout our investigation we determined he had not,” Baker said. “It was all adults.”

The code section applies in this case because, while the School Board gave Sheley access to the computer, it never intended for him to use the device in that manner, Baker said.

Investigator G.R. Poe stated in a criminal complaint filed in the court that Sheley used his employer’s computer network for inappropriate purposes during business hours on at least two occasions during his tenure at his previous place of employment.

Poe interviewed Sheley at his home on May 31. Sheley acknowledged during the interview that he used the business-issued desktop computer for purposes not authorized by his employer, Poe states in the complaint. The instances occurred in Sheley’s office during work hours, the complaint states.

“The accused went on to concede that he was wrong, hadn’t utilized good judgment and was remorseful for his actions,” Poe states.

The matter remains under investigation, Baker said.

The Shenandoah County Public Schools website still listed Sheley as a truancy officer with the system Wednesday.

A section of the division’s employee handbook pertaining to school property states that all computers, computer files, the email system, internet access and other software furnished to employees are Shenandoah County Public Schools property and intended for business use only. Employees must abide by the board-approved regulations in the Acceptable System Use Policy.

Access to recent, approved versions of the system use policy requires log-in information. A 2012 version of the policy available on the system’s website lists examples of unacceptable uses that include illegal or unauthorized activity, transmitting any material in violation of federal, state or local laws; submitting, posting, publishing or displaying any obscene, profane, threatening, illegal or other inappropriate material.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com