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Former Fargo substitute teacher charged with sharing child porn

Jason Ellsworth Morris

FARGO — A former Fargo School District employee who worked with elementary students is accused of sharing child pornography online.

Jason Ellsworth Morris, 40, was charged with a Class C felony count of possession of certain materials prohibited and a Class B felony count of promoting a sexual performance by a minor, according to documents filed Monday, Dec. 10, in Cass County District Court.

The school district fired Morris on Monday as a result of the charges, said AnnMarie Campbell, a district spokeswoman.

Morris first began working as a substitute teacher with the district in January 2017, before becoming a positive behavior technician at Ed Clapp Elementary School in September of the same year, Campbell said.

The Fargo Police Department told the school district that it doesn’t believe Morris’ charges are connected with the school, Campbell said.

She said the district conducted “its own investigation and found that Mr. Morris had not used school technology inappropriately.”

Hiring within the school district is “contingent upon completing fingerprinting and a background check,” Campbell said, adding that the district is unable to release that sort of employee information.

According to court documents:

Fargo police received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about a possible image of child pornography that was shared online.

Fargo police traced the IP address to Morris and conducted a warranted search on Dec. 6 at his home. Morris denied having knowledge of an image shared online.

Electronic devices seized from the home showed one image of suspected child pornography that was taken by a phone belonging to Morris, court documents show.

He was arrested on Dec. 7 and declined to be interviewed by police, court documents stated. A phone message left for him was not immediately returned Tuesday, Dec. 11.

According to the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board website, Morris currently has a valid license as a substitute teacher in the state. Phone messages left for board officials concerning the status of Morris' license were not immediately returned Tuesday.