Horry County teacher charged with sending obscene material

Shane Watson/ courtesy of J Reuben Long

A teacher with Horry County Schools has been charged with Communicating Obscene Messages to Another Person, Non-telephonic and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.

Shane Watson, 26, from Surfside Beach was arrested Tuesday afternoon by Horry County police.

On October 13, a 13-year-old boy began receiving sexually suggestive text messages on his cell phone, according to Horry County police. 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 the boy 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.

Horry County Schools spokeswoman Teal Britton said Watson has been placed on administrative leave pending internal and external investigations.

Watson was initially hired as a substitute with the school district and hired full time the following year, Britton said.

This is Watson's second year teaching in the Horry County School system. He was certified in Social Studies, according to Britton.

Watson's bond hearing was held at J. Reuben Long Detention Center Wednesday morning.

Deputy Director Joey Johnson said a judge set Watson's bond at $25,000 ($15,000 for the Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor charge and $10,000 for the Communicating Obscene Messages to Another Person, Non-telephonic charge).

The judge ordered Watson to be on electronic monitoring, according to Johnson

Watson was released Wednesday on home detention, according to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said Watson has served as a constable in Horry County since 2009. According to the State Law Enforcement Division, a constable is appointed by the Governor and is considered a reserve police officer.

SLED is taking appropriate action and has suspended Watson pending the outcome of an investigation, said Berry.

The agency has two classifications for the rank; constable and advanced constable.

Watson is 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.