Former McCurtain Co. teacher arrested for several felonies, including child pornography
McCURTAIN COUNTY, Okla. (KSLA) - A former Eagletown School teacher has been arrested for seven felonies, including child pornography.
On Oct. 6, the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) obtained warrant for Ian Highful, a former Eagletown School teacher.
MCSO detectives performed an extensive investigation due to allegations made by former students alleging misconduct by Highful.
- 1 count of aggravated possession of child pornography
- 5 counts of child exploitation
- 1 count of indecent exhibitions
Once the warrant was obtained, MCSO contacted Clute, Texas investigators; Highful was immediately taken into custody.
Highful is currently awaiting extradition back to Oklahoma to face charges. His bond has been set at $1 million.
McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy says these charges date back about six years, when Highful was a teacher in Eagletown. Investigators were working off of tips from students, and reportedly discovered thousands of images of child porn on Highful’s cellphone. Investigators then began the process of trying to identify if any of the victims were local.
Highful eventually left Oklahoma and moved to Texas.
Officials in McCurtain County say so far, they believe they’ve identified five local victims, one of whom, Tra Minchew, took his life by suicide in the years after the alleged crimes. He died June 19, 2021. The teen’s mother, Melody, says her son’s suicide was a direct result of what happened, and came after years of personal torment, anxiety, and pain.
Melody says her son told her Highful would encourage him to send nudes of himself to receive better grades in class. She adds that Highful, according to her son, would show up at parties attended by Eagletown students and give them alcohol.
She says on one occasion, her son told her soon after he was given alcohol by Highful, his body began going numb and he eventually passed out. Melody says her son woke up the next day showing physical signs of sexual abuse.
“Every day, I called the sheriff’s office to try to get people come forward,” she said. That included calls to the state attorney general’s office, state senators, and representatives.
“It’s a long time coming,” she added, close to tears.
The case against Highful lingered on for years, finally reaching a point that the sheriff’s office was able to move forward with charges.
“I’m glad it’s finally coming up,” said Sheriff Clardy.
He says the sheriff’s office has spent a lot of time and energy on this case, dating back to before he was sheriff.
“The pictures are time stamped,” explained Sheriff Clardy. He says this is how they know exactly when and where the images of these juveniles were taken.
Many of the alleged victims are now over the age of 21.
The McCurtain County district attorney recused himself from the case. It has since been assigned by state officials to the Pittsburg County, Okla. district attorney’s office.
McCurtain County authorities believe there may be more local victims.
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