Deputies: Burke Co. teacher connected to online child porn investigation

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HILDEBRAN, N.C. - A teacher in Burke County was arrested after being connected to an online child pornography investigation, deputies said.

Burke County detectives said that Michael Andrew Alexander, a teacher at Hildebran Elementary School, was connected to the international child pornography sting.

Burke County Sheriff’s Office officials said they were contacted by the FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation about the investigation.

"(This is) very disturbing and the potential for multiple victims is very real," said Burke County Sherif Steve Whisenant.

Whisenant said an international investigation into child pornography led to an arrest of a pedophile in Spain. Videos taken from that suspect showed girls between the ages of 4 and 11 years old in various sexual situations, both with each other and with an adult male.

Authorities in Barcelona, Spain, arrested a suspect, Javier Alvarez Varela, in what they called Operation Filipo.  After the arrest, Spainish authorities contacted the United States Embassy about Alexander's alleged involvement, a police report said.

Investigators said some of those girls seen in the video were wearing Hildebran t-shirts.

One parent said Thursday she was so upset she could not stop from shaking.  

"Very heartbreaking. You trust somebody with your kids and then this is what you get," she said.

Alexander, 54, has been a teacher in the Burke County School system for 12 years, first at Glen Alpine Elementary and then at Hildebran Elementary School, as a drama teacher.

The principal  said Alexander was popular. Many children called him Mr A.

"We're devastated -- devastated," said Superintendent Larry Putnam. "It is a sad day for us and families and Burke County Schools. Our hearts are just broken right now."

The FBI seized a computer from Alexander's classroom earlier this week.  

In court Thursday, the allegations against Alexander were so serious, the sheriff's office brought in a dozen deputies to keep the peace in the courtroom. 

Alexander was charged with one count felony first-degree sex offense with a child, three counts of felony indecent liberties with a child and five counts of felony second-degree exploitation of a minor.

The district fired Alexander on Tuesday.  He was arrested Thursday and sent to jail with bail set at $1 million.

The school is offering counseling for any families who want it.