CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - A Chesterfield County parent says she did some “mom investigating” to discover that a fifth-grade teacher is in jail after being charged in another county with sex crimes against a minor.
Ashley Cimburke says she received a letter on Friday that Richard O’Brien would be out for an extended time at Reams Elementary School.
Cimburke then discovered that O’Brien was facing the charge of proposing a sex act by a communication device to a child under 15 in King and Queen County. Cimburke remembered that in a bio given to parents during back to school nights, O’Brien said he worked for the King and Queen County School system, so she searched for him in the jail inmate list online.
“I saw his name, face and all the information there. I probably stared at that screen for five minutes in disbelief,” said Cimburke.
School officials confirmed Tuesday that O’Brien was a teacher at the school and began working for CCPS in August 2019.
The King and Queen County School system says O’Brien worked for them from August 19, 2013, to June 30, 2019.
An official with Chesterfield County Public Schools wrote to Cimburke stating that the school system does not “publicly discuss individual personnel issues,” but “while the division cooperates with other jurisdictions (like King & Queen County in this case), we also must await any information they are willing to share as their investigative steps and any legal due process unfolds.”
“I want to make sure the children are okay and they are having the right conversations with the right people, and that moving forward they are empowered to have conversations about good situations and bad situations," Cimburke explained. “It was knowing that I needed to do something. I knew Chesterfield couldn’t speak on it - the principal said she couldn’t speak on it but there was nothing stopping me from speaking on it.”
The email to Cimburke also says the school system encourages parents to “have regular open conversations with their student” and to bring any concerns about inappropriate conduct to the school principal or school counselor.
O’Brien is currently in Middle Peninsula Regional Jail with no bond. He was arrested on Oct. 22.
The King and Queen Sheriff’s Office said the following about O’Brien’s arrest:
“The King and Queen County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the Chesterfield Police Department took Richard Francis Obrien, 51 years of age of Midlothian, Virginia into custody on October 22, 2019. The incident occurred on or about 5/26/2019 and he has been charged with 18.2-374.3; use of a communications system to facilitate certain offenses involving children (child). Obrien is being held in the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center without bond and awaiting arraignment on November 1, 2019 at 9:00 am. The incident remains under investigation.This office will not have any further comment on this ongoing investigation.”
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