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Published: Wednesday, 3/9/2005

Defiance teacher to face hearing on pandering charges

DEFIANCE - A Defiance High School teacher who was held in jail last night on an indictment for pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor is to appear in Defiance County Common Pleas Court today.

Andrew Richard Whalen, 30, a shop and math teacher who lives at 404 Douglas St. in Defiance, was booked into the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio on Monday. He is to appear in court today for a bond hearing and next Wednesday for an arraignment.

Defiance students are not thought to be involved in the alleged incidents, said Morris Murray, an assistant county prosecutor.

School administrators suspended Mr. Whalen without pay after he was indicted by the county grand jury March 2, school board member Curtis Aldrich said. The school suspended Mr. Whalen with pay when administrators first learned a few weeks ago that he was being investigated. Mr. Whalen is a first-year teacher in the Defiance City district, Mr. Aldrich said.

Mr. Whalen is charged with four counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor.

Two of the counts allege dissemination of such material. They are second-degree felonies, punishable by up to eight years in prison. Those charges date back to incidents in 2003.

The other two counts allege possession of such material. They are fourth-degree felonies, punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

The indictment, according to the prosecutor's office, is the result of continuing investigations by state and federal authorities involving the illegal distribution, sharing, and possession of child pornography through the Internet.

Allegations against Mr. Whalen first came to local authorities from a task force organized by the Wyoming attorney general's office, although Mr. Whalen is not thought to have ties to Wyoming, Mr. Murray said.

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