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Former Tazewell County teacher faces 193 years in prison

Mar. 25—TAZEWELL, Va. — A former teacher faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 193 years in prison and a maximum of 605 years after a circuit court jury convicted him of multiple charges including enticing a minor to perform in pornography, the Tazewell County Commonwealth's Attorney said Monday.

John Michael Sharpe, who formerly taught at Tazewell Middle School and Tazewell High School, was convicted in Tazewell County Circuit Court of one count of enticing a minor to perform in pornography, age 15 or older, with the offender being seven plus years older than the minor, Commonwealth's Attorney J. Christopher Plaster said during a press conference at the Tazewell County Courthouse.

That charge carries a three-year mandatory minimum sentence in prison, Plaster said. Sharpe was further convicted of 19 counts of enticing a minor to perform in pornography, age 15 or older, with the offender being seven plus years older than the minor, second or subsequent offense.

"Each of these 19 counts carries a 10-year mandatory minimum period of incarceration," Plaster said. "Finally, John Michael Sharpe was convicted of one count of using electronic means for procuring minors for obscene materials. In total, John Michael Sharp faces a minimum active sentence of 193 years in the Virginia Department of Corrections and up to 605 years in prison."

Sharpe was found guilty March 22 before Circuit Court Judge Richard Patterson. Sentencing has been scheduled in June and he is being held in the regional jail system.

The investigation started in December 2021.

Sheriff Brian Hieatt thanked the victim for having the courage to come forward and share her story.

"I also want to thank my staff for all the hard work and the hundreds of hours that went into working on this case and developing a solid case against John Sharpe," Hieatt said.

"Lastly but certainly not least, I want to thank our Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Plaster and his amazing staff in preparing everyone for this case," Hieatt said. "Truly this is a team effort and should send a clear message. If you are in a position of trust with our children and you violate that trust, we will come for you."

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com