Former teacher pleads guilty in federal court
McCullough pleads to 5 total counts involving child exploitation, coercion
A former business teacher at Cassville High School has pleaded guilty to five federal crimes involving exploitation and coercion of a minor.
Brandon McCullough, 32, pleaded guilty to three counts of exploitation of a minor, class B felonies, and two counts of coercion and enticement of a minor, class A felonies. The class B counts carry a possible 15-30 years in prison, and the class A counts carry a possible 10 years to life in prison.
A sentencing hearing has yet to be set, as the court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation be performed on Oct. 7 and used as a factor in the sentencing. Court documents also say by pleading guilty, McCullough is eligible for a level reduction in sentencing per the federal sentencing guidelines.
By pleading guilty, McCullough must also register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.
According to the plea agreement, McCullough admitted to having sexually explicit conversations with and receiving explicit images from a 14-year-old female in New Jersey via the Kik messaging application.
He continued to threaten to post the images and videos if the victim did not send more, and he directed her to record specific acts of sexually explicit conduct.
McCullough created a second account and username on the application to coerce the victim to continue to send images and videos to McCullough’s original account.
Following the execution of a search warrant at his Branson home, McCullough admitted to contacting minors through Kik to solicit sexually explicit material. He said he used Kik for sexual chats since 2014, eventually progressing to such chats with minors.
The search revealed an external hard drive containing multiple folders with self-produced images and videos of minor females, including a 12-year-old victim from Texas identified by federal investigators.
Authorities said McCullough’s activity began as early as Nov. 1, 2018, and at least 11 total victims have been identified.