TAZEWELL, VA (WVNS) — A former Tazewell County Public Schools teacher is accused of having inappropriate relationships with students.

John Michael Sharpe is a former teacher at Tazewell High School and Tazewell Middle School. He is facing 176 charges including 148 counts of possessing child pornography, 27 charges of enticement and solicitation of a minor and one charge of electronic procurement. The investigation began in December 2021 with a complaint made by a mandated reporter at the schools.

Only one victim is related to the charges so far and there are no allegations of physical contact or violence. Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Christopher Plaster called this case a tragedy.

“This is a story about broken trust, trust that a young girl placed in a position of authority, a person that held a position that she had been taught to respect and revere, a person that she trusted to protect her,” Plaster said.

Tazewell County Sheriff Brian Hieatt said the school district was cooperative during the investigation.

Tazewell County Public Schools issued a statement shortly after the press conference stating:

“The welfare and safety of our students is the top priority in Tazewell County Public Schools. Our School Board has strong policies and expectations in place in order to provide students such a secure educational environment, including the expectation that all employees serve as role models at all times to the children we serve. We hold all employees to high standards of conduct and share in the concern over the allegations. We will continue to cooperate and work with law enforcement and other agencies involved in this matter. While we cannot comment specifically on personal matters, I can share with you that our school division is also reviewing the situation and treating it with the seriousness it deserves. In the interest of the safety of our students, to preserve the integrity of the information, and without any prejudgment, I can confirm that the staff member has been relieved from his duties as this investigation is pending. We remain committed to our school family and to making decisions that are in the best interests of our students.”

Sharpe faces a maximum of 2,280 years and a minimum of 260 years in prison if convicted. The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information related to Sharpe’s actions to come forward.

Sharpe was arraigned with a $10,000 secure bond. The investigation into his actions is still ongoing.