Williamsburg-James City County School Board Chairman Jim Kelly has asked board member Sandra Young to step down, two weeks after her husband was arrested and charged with federal child pornography charges.
Investigators found more than 22,000 images of child pornography on 40 electronic devices confiscated in August from the James City County home she shares with her husband, Charles Young, 69, according to records from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and Williamsburg-James City County General District Court.
Since Young's Nov. 16 arrest, several people have called and emailed members of the School Board asking for Sandra Young to resign her position, according to School Board Chairman Jim Kelly. People have emailed the James City Board of Supervisors with concerns as well, according to emails the Virginia Gazette obtained using the Freedom of Information Act.
Board split on Young's presence
Kelly said he called Sandra Young and asked her to step down Wednesday afternoon and she said she'd call him back. He said he had not heard from her as of 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Kelly said five of the seven school board members support her resignation. Kelly, along with vice chairwoman Kyra Cook (Williamsburg), Julie Hummel (Williamsburg), Holly Taylor (JCC-Stonehouse), and newly elected board member Lisa Ownby (JCC-Powhatan) support her resignation. James Beers (JCC-Roberts) and Sandy Young (JCC-Berkeley) did not support Kelly's request, according to Kelly.
On Friday, Sandra Young declined to comment, and Beers could not be reached for comment.
Ownby said her agreement with Kelly's request was about Sandra Young's poor judgment concerning her husband.
"I am one of those in support of her stepping down because we need to be concerned with the safety of all children and protect all children," Ownby said. "From my point of view Sandy lacked good judgment when she brought her husband to events with small children."
Kelly echoed Ownby's statement. He also questioned the affect the events will have on her, the board and the ongoing search to find a new superintendent by February.
"I am concerned about how it affects her ability to represent her district and the distractions this provides to the board, as well as superintendent candidates, during the superintendent search," Kelly said.
Ownby said Young's continued presence on the board could prevent superintendent hopefuls from applying.
On Friday, Taylor confirmed that she initially supported Kelly's request for Sandra Young's resignation, but now she is questioning whether she agrees with the request.
"I'm not sure," Taylor said. "I think we all need more information on what's going on."
What we know
Charles Young is charged with 10 felony counts of receiving child pornography based on three videos and seven photos he obtained between Feb. 4, 2014, and July 27, 2014, that depict young boys under 18 engaged in sexually explicit behavior, according to federal court records.
One of the Youngs' adult children told James City police that he'd known about his father's addiction for "approximately 20 years" and had seen the images on occasion, as recently as December 2015, according to county court documents.
The son, now in his 30s, said he went to the police after discovering a fake Facebook profile with a pseudonym his father used to make friends and chat with underage boys, federal prosecutor Lisa McKeel said at Charles Young's Nov. 21 court hearing in U.S. District Court in Newport News.
McKeel said the family staged an intervention with Charles Young around Christmas 2015. McKeel testified that during the intervention, Charles Young confessed to his family that authorities in the Marshall Islands had caught him acting inappropriately with a young boy, preventing further travel to the country.
In a search on the couple's home on Aug. 18, police searched for any "electronic data processing and storage devices" and seized 40 such items including three tablets, four laptop computers, 25 electronic storage devices and one Samsung cell phone, according to county court records.
School Board clerk Janet Cerza said board members are given an iPhone and a laptop from the division. Because board members tend to work remotely, Cerza said the county will also pay for their internet service at home; it's a perk Sandra Young has taken advantage of since she took office in January.
Cerza said she did not know what model computer Sandra Young was issued or whether it was among the items seized by police. Court documents also do not specify the ownership of the seized electronics.
At the Nov. 21 hearing, McKeel testified Charles Young was not home during the search, and that he kept a cellphone hidden from his wife and the authorities until his arrest Nov. 16.
The 69-year-old was denied release from Western Tidewater Regional Jail, in Suffolk, while he awaits trial because a federal judge felt his release was a danger to the community. He pleaded not guilty to the charges during the Nov. 21 court appearance.
Staff writer Michele Canty contributed to this report.
Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.
Thing taken from the Young home, according to JCC General District Court records:
4 laptop computers, including an HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Acer
A Samsung cell phone
13 SD memory cards
8 thumb drives
4 external hard drives
A Nikon Coolpix Camera
A Sony digital recorder
A smart watch