A middle school music teacher in Florida has been arrested for allegedly posing as a teen boy to convince minors to exchange inappropriate photos, officials said.
Kristopher Paul Beckstrom, 42, was taken into police custody Wednesday after a teenager came forward saying she had learned an Instagram and Snapchat user she believed was a 15-year-old boy who had been requesting nude photos was actually her former teacher.
The alleged victim told police last Thursday she had first been friended on Snapchat and then on Instagram by a user named "erikb20172018" in 2016, an arrest report released by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.
The person sent the girl "random" requests for nude photos on the social media platforms, saying he “wished he was there with her," authorities said.
But the girl ignored his requests, and he later wrote to her, saying, “I’m sorry, I have to behave with you,” the arrest report said.
She told police she continued to ignore his messages until another Instagram user privately messaged her on Sept. 10 with a screenshot of the “erikb20172018” profile and a comment that “He is not who you think he is.”
The other user told the girl she too had been messaged by “Erik” in the past, and that when he repeatedly refused to send her a live video, she deleted him from her friend list. Several months later, he added her again, and the pair eventually exchanged inappropriate photos over Snapchat, the other user told the girl.
“Erik” also sent the other user a video, but she said she grew suspicious upon realizing the images and video didn’t match the person in his profile picture, the arrest report said.
When she confronted him, “Erik” allegedly admitted he was Beckstrom and disclosed his real age, saying he was married with children and that he was a music teacher at Landon Middle School in Jacksonville, the arrest report said.
The alleged victim told police that when she heard his name, she immediately recognized it as the name of her seventh grade teacher at Landon Middle School. She also said the description the other user provided matched her former teacher’s features.
He allegedly asked the other user to not tell anyone, but shared that he once took underwear out of a female student’s bag that had been left in his class, the arrest report said.
The other user said she began contacting other females connected to "Erik" on social media and telling them about his alleged true identity.
Another alleged victim said “Erik” asked her for a photo of herself, and when she sent it, he in turn sent a photo of his genitalia, officials said.
Beckstrom, once recognized as his school’s Teacher of the Year, was charged with producing or promoting the sexual performance by a minor and transmission of material harmful to minors.
Authorities at his school were aware of his arrest and said they were waiting for police to complete their investigation.
"At this point, our action is that that teacher is not in any of our classrooms and will not be allowed on any of our campuses," Duval County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Diana Greene told WJXT-TV.
School officials told parents that should Beckstrom be released from custody, he would be removed from the classroom and barred from further contact with students “pending the outcome of an internal investigation.”
Beckstrom remained in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office Thursday, online records show.
Authorities have appealed to anyone with further information about Beckstrom’s alleged online activity to come forward, saying: “We believe there may be more victims and we are asking anyone who believes they have been victimized to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org.”