ROCHESTER — A former Newark High School employee and local photographer, who has admitted secretly videotaping minors, faces federal charges and a potential life term in prison.
Matthew Holland, 28, was charged Monday by federal authorities with production, receipt and possession of child pornography, and online enticement of a minor. The charges have a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life behind bars.
Holland’s arrest was announced by James Kennedy Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.
The case began in March, when the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia looked into Snapchat user “Tjohnson755” having alleged sexually explicit online conversations with a 14-year-girl from Virginia. The user was identified as Holland.
Officials said Holland, posing as a juvenile, coerced the girl into sending him nude photos of herself. When the girl wanted to stop communicating, officials said Holland threatened to put her photos on the internet, and he used that and other threats to have her keep sending him sexually explicit photos and videos.
Police in Virginia got a search warrant for the Snapchat account and said they found dozens of similar conversations with other suspected minors.
Virginia police, with help from the Newark Police Department and Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, executed a search warrant at Holland’s home in the village. Officials seized computers and other digital items, saying they had hundreds of images and videos of child porn, including pornography with prepubscent minors.
Police said Holland admitted operating Illumination Images in the village. They said there allegedly were hidden cameras in the dressing room and they had been used to tape customers — including minors — in various stages of undress.
According to the criminal complaint, Holland was employed at Newark High School until resigning. Reached by email, district Superintendent Matt Cook confirmed Holland was a teacher assistant from 2015 until October 2019, and was previously a substitute teacher and summer cleaner.
“The district has been working closely with the Victim Resource Center of Wayne County to make sure our students and families get the support they need during this difficult time,” Cook said in a statement. “As this is an ongoing law enforcement investigation, all other questions regarding Mr. Holland need to be directed to the agencies running the investigation.”
Federal officials said Holland also is a former employee of the Canandaigua YMCA. He also is believed to have surreptitiously taped people there. Rich Buch, director of operations, said the organization is fully cooperating in the investigation.
“The safety, security, and well being of children and members in our care is the No. 1 priority at the Canandaigua Family YMCA,” Buch said in a statement. “We take very seriously our obligation to protect those we serve.”
Buch added that Holland passed all required background screenings before he was hired.
After the search warrant at his home, Holland was arrested and extradited to Virginia to face state charges. He made his initial appearance in federal court in Virginia, and is being held without bail until he is brought to New York.
“As an educator and photographer, the defendant not only had access to children but occupied a position of trust with respect to them,” Kennedy said in a press release. “However, as reflected in the allegations set forth in the criminal complaint, his cruel and unrelenting betrayal of that trust is every parent’s nightmare. The case serves as a sobering reminder that we must remain vigilant in our effort to educate our children to the dangers they face and to pay attention to their online activities. Too often, children lack the real-world experience needed to discern the dangers lurking in the virtual world.”
Anyone with information concerning Holland, Illumination Images or Snapchat user “Tjohnson755” is asked to contact Homeland Security Investigations at (716) 464-6070 or email email@example.com.