Explicit text messages show Bethel elementary school principal targeted multiple teens
A Bethel elementary school principal faces three federal charges involving a minor, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.
Christopher Carmichael, the principal at Gladys Jung Elementary School, was arrested Tuesday night with the help of the Bethel Police Department and Alaska State Troopers.
He was charged with attempted transfer of obscene matter to a minor and two counts of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.
If convicted, Carmichael, 55, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison for his most serious alleged charges, according to a news released from the U.S. Attorney's office.
Carmichael had been under investigation since November when Bethel police reached out to the FBI over Carmichael’s online activity. The release states he entered into graphic sexual online communication with an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as a 13-year-old girl.
According the criminal complaint filed, Carmichael repeatedly reminded the undercover agent to delete their messages while stressing the importance of referring to her as an 18-year-old woman.
This, he said, would keep him from getting in trouble.
On Dec. 3, Carmichael told the undercover agent that he was going to visit Anchorage and asked “if she was ever allowed to go out alone.”
According to the complaint, the exchange went like this:
Carmichael: Is there a motel close by?
Agent: Not like right close by but downtown
Agent: I’m not far from downtown
Carmichael: Within walking distance for you?
Carmichael later said he wasn’t sure if he would be able to meet her on that particular trip, but “if not this trip then soon,” the complaint said.
Carmichael returned to Bethel but continued texting the under cover agent, sending sexually explicit messages where he referred to himself as "daddy."
"He went on to say daughters often fantasize about their fathers and fathers often fantasize about their daughters," the complaint states. "He stated this is 'natural' and 'normal' but 'society has built rules against it.'"
Police were initially tipped off by a former Gladys Jung student who said she had a relationship with Carmichael "after she left Gladys Jung, but while she was still a minor.”
According to the complaint:
“Victim C reported the inappropriate physical contact occurred inside the janitor closets, gym closet, and Carmichael’s office at Gladys Jung Elementary. The touching included squeezing her breasts and rubbing her upper thigh over her clothing and her stomach under the clothing. Victim C stated it happened in the school outside of the view of security cameras. Victim C said that Carmichael told her they needed to stay outside of the camera view so no one would think he was doing anything crazy. The touching usually occurred later in the afternoon after the teachers and staff had gone home.”
After returning to Bethel, Carmichael also resumed communication with Victim C, as well as a Bethel police lieutenant posing as Victim C.
Authorities eventually arrested Carmichael, who admitted to “having a sexual attraction to children, in particular children who are beginning puberty and pubescent,” according to the complaint.
He also told authorities “he had a desire to meet with minors but he was able to prevent himself from actually meeting.”
In a press release Thursday, the Lower Kuskokwim School District said it had assigned a new principal for the immediate future and offered emotional support resources to parents and students:
The LKSD Administration has assigned LKSD Personnel Director Joshua Gill as Acting Principal at Gladys Jung Elementary School through the rest of this semester, which ends December 20. LKSD Administration is finalizing arrangements for an interim principal to serve at GJES for the remainder of the school year.
LKSD has social workers available for emotional support for students and parents. If parents need to access this support they should contact their child’s school social worker or LKSD Lead Social Worker at 543-4874 or 545-4429.
Over the next week, Acting Principal Joshua Gill will be reaching out to parents to connect with them about any concerns they may have about their child’s education at GJES and answer any questions they may have about safety and security at the school.
Authorities are asking anyone who might have information on Carmichael to contact the Anchorage FBI office at 907-276-4441.
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