Shane Watson, a former high school teacher with the Horry County School District, pled guilty Tuesday to two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in the Third Degree and one count of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.
Judge Edward Cottingham sentenced Watson to 10 years on each Sexual Exploitation charge and 3 years on the Contributing to the Delinquency charge. These sentences will run concurrently with each other.
Once he's released from prison, Watson will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
In 2012, Watson was a teacher at the Academy for Arts, Science, and Technology in Horry County. Watson posed as a teenage girl on the internet and in text messages, and used the false identity to solicit sexually explicit photos from several 13 and 14-year-old boys.
The investigation revealed the messages were sent through a masking service that allows the sender to remain anonymous.
Investigators say based on the tone and context of the messages, the parents of one of the boys believed the person who wrote them was not a classmate as indicated, but an adult who was trying to engage the boy in a sexually-based conversation.
Subpoenas and search warrants were issued to internet service providers and telephone and communications companies. Those revealed two separate IP addresses. Police say both of those were registered to Watson's home or Watson himself. Police say Watson was the child's 9th grade teacher at the Academy for Arts, Science, and Technology.
A subsequent search of Watson's phone and computer uncovered several images known to be child pornography.
At the time of his arrest, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said Watson had served as a constable in Horry County since 2009.
The agency has two classifications for the rank; constable and advanced constable.
Watson was a constable, according to Berry.
A constable can only provide assistance to local law enforcement for specific duties and only when a constable works with a law enforcement agency under a supervisor of that agency does he or she have police powers, said Berry.
A constable can not perform police duties alone, said Berry.