John Graves, Sr. (Photo: Perry County Sheriff's Office)
PERRY COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) - A Perry County man is behind bars after authorities said he took inappropriate pictures of young girls during a school function, and that wasn't the end of it after further investigation.
The man in custody is John Graves, Sr. As of Friday night, he remained at the Perry County Detention Center in lieu of $200,000 bond as concerned parents stand appalled at the child porn allegations against him.
"It's really scary because I never thought anything like this would happen in Bigelow," Ruby Testerman said. Testerman is a parent with a child at Anne Watson Elementary School. She's shaken up by what Graves allegedly did there. "My initial thoughts, I was very upset."
The superintendent said this all goes back to the morning of Jan. 18. Parents, students and teachers gathered in the annex at Anne Watson Elementary for an honor roll assembly. A parent said that was when they saw Graves taking pictures of young girls as they bent over.
"One of the first calls that we made was to the child hotline with the Department of Human Services and then the sheriff's office," Superintendent Eric Saunders said.
Superintendent Eric Saunders believes Graves was at the ceremony because his kid was part of the program. Saunders wrote in a letter to all parents that Graves is currently banned from all school property.
"With the allegations of what we're dealing with and our number one priority being kids, and with kids, the number one priority is safety," Saunders said.
The allegations also include Graves having hundreds of pictures of young girls in underwear on his personal laptops. Investigators found the pictures after the school incident and don't believe they feature local kids. They believe Graves downloaded the images from the Internet. Still, parents, like Testerman, are keeping a tighter watch around town.
"My kids are under lock and key now," Testerman said.
THV 11 also talked with Perry County Sheriff Scott Montgomery by phone Friday about this case. He said that Graves admitted to authorities that he took pictures of the girls at school on his phone but later erased them.
According to the sheriff, Graves also admitted that he had more pictures and allowed investigators to search his laptops. The sheriff said, in those pictures, the girls ranged in age from one to about 10.
As for the suspect's own child, the Sheriff said the boy is with mother; Graves and his wife are separated.
The sheriff's office reported that Graves currently faces more than 200 counts of possession of child pornography, and more charges are possible.