The Herald News - November 5, 2011
BIRMINGHAM, AL— FBI agents today arrested a former Birmingham City Schools security officer and substitute bus driver for Shelby County Schools on child pornography charges, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley. A joint investigation by Birmingham Police and the FBI led to this morning’s arrest of MICHAEL WAYNE WOOTEN, 60, of Alabaster. Wooten was arrested in Bessemer. He is charged in a criminal complaint with receiving child pornography and with possessing a computer, computer disk, and other material containing child pornography. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert R. Armstrong Jr. detained Wooten following an initial court appearance this morning. Armstrong scheduled a detention hearing for Wooten at 1:30 p.m. Monday. “Birmingham Police and the FBI worked diligently in this case to take someone who preys on children off the streets,” Vance said. “This investigation uncovered sexually explicit photographs we believe were taken in a studio Wooten set up in a closed Birmingham school building,” Vance said. “Not all victims shown in the photographs have been identified, and the investigation continues. We ask that anyone who believes they may have any information related to this case please call the FBI, toll free, at 1-866-372-0209. The call will be returned,” Vance said. According to an FBI affidavit supporting the arrest complaint, results of a forensic examination of Wooten’s computer were received by investigators in October and showed graphic pornographic images of at least five girls who appear to be under age 12. The pictures show the children involved in sexually explicit conduct, including images that depict Wooten engaging in actual or simulated sexual intercourse, according to the affidavit. The pictures appear to have been taken in the office of Dupuy Elementary, a closed school building in the Birmingham City School System, according to the affidavit. Wooten worked as a security officer for Birmingham City Schools from July 1997 until May 2011. In that capacity, he did not have unsupervised access to students, according to Birmingham Schools spokeswoman Michaelle Chapman. A Shelby County Schools official said Wooten qualified for a bus-driving license with the system this year after passing all pre-employment requirements, including a criminal background review. Wooten has substituted on 21 days since school started Aug. 11, the official said. Wooten told investigators in April 2010 that he shared the office at Dupuy Elementary School with another security guard. Wooten said he set up a studio at the office to photograph children in order to build his art portfolio. A Birmingham Police officer and an FBI agent searched the office in April 2010 after law enforcement was alerted that Wooten had taken a 9-year-old girl to the empty school and photographed her in several outfits, including sexually explicit costumes, the affidavit states. In the search, the officers found five plastic bins containing girls’ clothing, including dresses, bathing suits, and thong underwear. Only the 9-year-old girl has been identified and interviewed by law enforcement. Investigators hope to identify the other children in the photographs, and any other children who might be victims in the case. Birmingham Police and the FBI investigated the case, with assistance from Birmingham City Schools’ security. Hoover and Alabaster police assisted in today’s arrest. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Fortune.