A high school teacher who was also a baseball coach sent a female student lewd messages on Facebook, federal officials say.  The man was sentenced.

A high school teacher who was also a baseball coach sent a female student lewd messages on Facebook, federal officials say. The man was sentenced.

A high school art teacher initiated sexually explicit conversations with a 15-year-old student on Facebook and sent her “indecent” images, according to federal prosecutors.

Now, the man who also coached the baseball team at GW Carver High School in Birmingham, Alabama, go to prisonprosecutors say.

A judge sentenced Richard Pope, 57, of Birmingham, to four years and six months in federal prison, according to an Oct. 4 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama. He previously pleaded guilty to three counts of transmitting obscene material to a minor, officials said.

Court documents show that Pope’s conviction came after a cyber tip from an unidentified person alerted Alabama law enforcement to his online activities. The tip accused Pope of planning to meet a teenage girl for “sexual activity” while he was working as a teacher.

“Pope betrayed the trust placed in him as a teacher and will now pay the consequences for his actions,” Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Felix A. Rivera-Esparo said in a statement.

While Pope’s Linkedin says he is still employed by Birmingham City Schools after entering the high school in 2014, he is no longer listed on the school’s employee directory.

McClatchy News reached out to Pope’s attorney and the Carver High School principal for comment on Oct. 4 and is awaiting a response.

After law enforcement received a cyber tip about Pope, on August 12, 2020, investigators executed a search warrant on his Facebook page, as well as the account of a 15-year-old student, according to Pope’s plea agreement.

Pope began messaging the teenage student in March 2020 “after seeing pictures (of the girl) posted on her profile,” the plea agreement states.

Telling the student that he loves “[w]painful [her]”and the dresses she wears,” Pope later wrote to the girl, saying “what happens between us stays between us,” according to the plea agreement.

Throughout the Facebook exchange between Pope and the girl, he asked the teenager invasive questions and “shared vivid details” of his sex life, investigators said.

Pope also sent students memes, GIFs, images and videos that were indecent, including images of oral sex, according to the investigation.

“Some of the images and videos shared by the Pope appeared to be the Pope himself,” the plea agreement states.

Before Pope was sentenced, his attorney submitted a sentencing memorandum on Pope’s behalf that read in part: “Mr. The Pope recognizes the seriousness of the behavior. He repents for the pain he caused his family, society and, above all, the victims. Otherwise, he led a law-abiding lifestyle, as evidenced by his zero criminal record.”

Pope was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and must register as a sex offender, according to a news release.

“This sentence sends a strong signal that those who abuse their positions of trust over our children will be held accountable and punished,” US Attorney Primo F. ​​Escalona said in a statement.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the Southeast and Northeast while based in New York. She is a graduate of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. She has previously written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and others.