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She Was Trusted With Kids at a Greensboro Church Daycare. Feds Say She Exploited Them to Make Child Porn

Federal agents arrested Alyson Brooke Saunders who’s charged with several crimes involving child exploitation and child porn, according to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

GREENSBORO, N.C. — WFMY News 2 has learned possibly five children were involved in a child porn case involving a former worker at a Greensboro school church daycare. That’s according to letters sent out to parents from Fellowship Day School.

RELATED: Former Greensboro Church Daycare Worker Confessed She Produced Child Porn, Homeland Security Agents Say

On Friday, federal agents arrested Alyson Brooke Saunders who’s charged with several crimes involving child exploitation and child porn, according to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Agents said Saunders admitted to exploiting and producing child pornography. She worked at Fellowship Day School in Greensboro at the daycare but has since been terminated from her position.

RELATED: What Is Child Grooming? A Q&A With Police Every Parent, Guardian Should Know

Here’s what we know about the investigation, charges, and what the school is doing to keep parents informed.

RELATED: How To Stop Child Abuse: List Of Resources

CHARGES

Saunders is facing the following charges: Indecent Liberties With a Minor, First-Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, Sexual Offense With a Child by an Adult, and Crime Against Nature. Saunders was placed in the Guilford County Jail. 

TIP THAT LED TO INVESTIGATION

The investigation started in late February when HSI said their Winston-Salem office received a tip from HSI London. The tip claimed a person arrested on child pornography charges abroad was having contact online with Saunders. In response to that tip, HSI special agents interviewed Saunders who they say gave them consent to look at her electronic media.

CONFESSION

In March, HSI says Saunders admitted to exploiting and producing pornography of minor children. In addition to her confession, forensic analysis of electronic media also confirmed that Saunders produced and disseminated child pornography, which led to her arrest Friday, HSI says.

WHERE DID SAUNDERS WORK?

Saunders worked at the Fellowship Day School which is part of Fellowship Presbyterian Church, in Greensboro. She was a daycare worker but has since been terminated from her position according to the church. Fellowship Day School operates both pre-school and after-school programs.

SCHOOL NOTIFIED 

The School was first contacted by Special Agents on March 7 and that was the first notice that any issues of concerns existed regarding the employee, according to a statement by the School.

Charles Cook, Homeland Security Special Agent said the investigation does not involve inappropriate physical contact with the children.

Cook also stated the investigators have no reason to believe the alleged conduct involved more than five children, and that any other person associated with the School was involved or had knowledge of any alleged misconduct.

SCHOOL ISSUES STATEMENT, LETTERS TO PARENTS

Parents received three letters from the school including a statement and two separate updates on March 9, March 22, and April 5. The statement and letters informed parents of the incident, and updates to the investigation for full transparency.

SUSPENSION AND TERMINATION

Saunders was originally suspended in early March from her employment and was barred from the School and Church premises after leaders were notified of the incident. At that time Saunders was interviewed by law enforcement but not arrested.

She was later arrested in April and terminated as an employee, according to the School.

In a letter to parents on March 22, it was revealed Saunders is related to an employee at the School who was unaware of the incident.

BACKGROUND CHECK

The School performed a background check on Saunders before hiring, but it didn’t show any reason for concern.

EMPLOYMENT AT THE SCHOOL

Saunders had worked at the School for more than five years.

During that time School leaders said no concerns or red flags had been raised concerning Saunders prior to March 7.

INFORMING PARENTS AND STAFF

School staff was informed early on the morning of Friday, March 8 and parents of all students were informed in a general meeting that afternoon. The parents of the five children possibly involved had also been informed.

TASK FORCE

In a letter to parents on March 22, the School said it reported the investigation to Child Protective Services (CPS). They did not release the names of the children to the agency but stated they would if requested by CPS.

The School also created a Task Force whose job is to look at the security that’s already in place at the time of the incidents, consider further security measures.

The School also released a list of counseling services for any parent or child.

HAS THERE EVER BEEN AN INCIDENT LIKE THIS AT THE SCHOOL?

School leaders said they have never had any incidents prior to March 7, since its founding in 1997.

RESPONSE FROM SCHOOL

In a letter to parents on March 9, the School said, “The School and its staff, and the leadership of the Church, are devasted by the allegations that have come to light over the past two days. At the request of the investigating officers, we cannot comment further at this time. We ask that everyone pray for the children, parents, and staff of the Fellowship Day School as we deal with this terrible situation.”

REPORTING TIPS

If the public has additional information to share with law enforcement, they can call the HSI Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or submit a tip online. The tip line is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

FULL STATEMENT FROM THE SCHOOL

Fellowship Presbyterian released this statement to WFMY News 2:

On the afternoon of Thursday, March 7, 2019, Special Agents from Homeland Security and the State Bureau of Investigation appeared at Fellowship Day School and informed the School’s Executive Director that an employee of the School was being investigated by those agencies. The investigation relates to whether an employee of the School had acted inappropriately as to five children at the School. Fellowship Day School operates both pre-school and after-school programs. 

Special Agent Charles Cook of the Department of Homeland Security has stated that the investigation does not involve inappropriate physical contact with the children. Special Agent Cook has also stated that the investigators have no reason to believe that the alleged conduct involved more than five children or that any person associated with the School was involved in or had knowledge of any alleged misconduct, other than the employee in question.

The contact by the Special Agents on March 7 was the first notice to the School that any issues or concerns existed regarding this employee. The School had performed a background check on the employee in question before hiring, and that background check did not show any reason for concern. The employee had worked at the School for over five years without any concerns or red flags being raised, prior to March 7. 

Upon this first contact with the investigating Special Agents, the School’s Executive Director immediately contacted leadership for Fellowship Presbyterian Church, which operates the School. The employee in question was promptly suspended from her employment and has been barred from School and Church premises. It is our understanding that the employee in question has been interviewed by law enforcement but has not been arrested.

The staff of the School was informed by the Executive Director of these events early on the morning of Friday, March 8, and parents of all students were informed in a general meeting in the late afternoon of Friday, March 8. The Session (i.e., the governing body of the Church) was informed on the morning of Saturday, March 9. 

The identities of the children in question obviously will not be revealed by anyone associated with the School. It is our understanding that the parents of each of the five children have been informed that their child was potentially involved. The School is cooperating fully with law enforcement. 

The School is committed to full transparency with all parents at the School, limited only by the requirements of protecting the privacy of families and the need to avoid any interference with the ongoing investigation. 

Prior to March 7, Fellowship Day School had operated without any incidents since its founding in 1997. The School places a strong emphasis on protecting the safety of all of its children, and the School and its staff, and the leadership of the Church, are devastated by the allegations that have come to light over the past two days. At the request of the investigating officers, we cannot comment further at this time. We ask that everyone pray for the children, parents, and staff of the Fellowship Day School as we deal with this terrible situation.