A Pennsbury School District music instructor was charged with possessing thousands of images and videos of child pornography, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Christopher Bygott, 47, of Hamilton, N.J., surrendered to authorities Tuesday morning to be charged with possession of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility, both felonies.
Magisterial District Judge Jan Vislosky arraigned him. He was released on $250,000 unsecured bail, with the conditions that he have no contact with minors, stay off the internet, and surrender his passport.
The school district released a statement from Superintendent Thomas Smith saying “a staff member” was arrested on child pornography charges and that authorities do not believe any Pennsbury students were involved.
“The staff member in question was placed on unpaid administrative leave, has been banned from all district properties and district activities, and has been instructed not to communicate with any district staff, students, or families,” Smith said.
“Like every individual we hire, the individual in question has had active and fully cleared PA Child Abuse, PA Criminal History, FBI Criminal Background History, and all other required clearances on file with the district at all times during employment,” Smith added.
Bygott, the band director and curriculum coordinator for instrumental music, took students on overnight trips to perform at various venues.
“The PHS Marching Band has performed on five continents, countless parades, and almost all Disney Parks. Whether entertaining the crowd at a Pennsbury football game, marching in local parades, or performing in another country, this outstanding group of students, under the direction of Chris Bygott and his dedicated staff, is a strong point of pride for the district,” said Jennifer Neill, the district’s spokesperson was quoted as saying last year.
Tim Daly, a parent whose children had Bygott as a teacher, said, “Our superintendent and school board have continually told our community they are better suited to assume a parental role for students through teachers than the actual parents. This incident further supports why parents should have oversight into what is happening with their kids.
“I want answers as to when the school district learned of the allegations and how quickly he was removed from the classroom,” Daly added.
According to the criminal complaint, Bucks County detectives received tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Dec. 5. The internet address used to upload the child pornography from an Amazon Photos account was at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit. Bygott’s email address was on the account, the complaint said. County intermediate units provide various services to school districts, usually related to special education and curriculum.
During a Dec. 13 interview with detectives at the Pennsbury High School East campus, Bygott allegedly admitted that he was “sick” and “had a problem,” the complaint said. Bygott told detectives that his cell phone contained numerous files with child sexual abuse material.
A forensic examination of Bygott’s cell phone found it had more than 2,000 child pornographic images and videos, the complaint said.
“Mr. Bygott worked at multiple buildings during his employment in Pennsbury. As soon as the district received notification from the Bucks County District Attorney’s office, Mr. Bygott was placed on unpaid leave. Until notification by the Bucks County DA, the district had no reason to suspect Mr. Bygott of any misconduct,” said Neill.
The case is assigned for prosecution to Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Lannetti, chief of child abuse prosecution.