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Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The Elliot Gornall Child Pornography Case

     In 2011, after passing a background check, 27-year-old Elliot Gornall began teaching second and third grade at the R. F. McMullen Elementary school in the central Ohio town of Loudonville. In the fall of 2014, Gornall, well-liked by his students, their parents and his fellow teachers, began teaching a class of 25 kindergarten kids.

     Gornall's reputation and teaching career took a major blow on November 18, 2014 when local drug officers raided his home in Loudonville. The drug cops found a quantity of marijuana, illicit prescription drugs and several pairs of children's underwear. The searchers left Mr. Gornall's dwelling that day in possession of his personal computer.

     Not long after the drug raid, an Ashland County grand jury indicted the kindergarten teacher on several counts of prescription drug abuse, marijuana possession and theft related to the underwear. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, posted bail and was released from custody.

     Following the indictments that shocked the community, school district officials placed the 32-year-old teacher on administrative leave. On December 8, 2014, Elliot Gornall tendered his resignation from the R. F. McMullen Elementary School. He moved out of his place in Loudonville and took up residence in Lorain, Ohio.

     The big shock in the case came on March 6, 2015 when police officers arrested Gornall and booked him into the Ashland County Jail on 23 counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. If convicted as charged he faced up to 184 years in prison.

     A couple of months after the drug and theft indictments detectives with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation discovered child pornography and videotaped images of R. F. McMullen Elementary school kids using the kindergarten bathroom. Investigators searched the restroom and found, hidden in a white plastic hook stuck to the wall, a pinhole video camera. Detectives believed Gornall had installed the secret camera in August 2014.

     At his March 9, 2015 arraignment, Elliot Gornall pleaded not guilty to the charges related to the spy camera in the children's restroom. Ashland County prosecutor Chris Turnell informed the judge that detectives had found 63 videos of 25 kindergarten students plus more than 100 downloaded images of child pornography on the ex-teacher's computer. Judge Ronald Forsthoefel set Gornall's bail at $500,000.

     In October 2015, Elliot Gornall pleaded no contest to 181 charges related to his videotaping activities and other charges. Judge Ronald Forsthoefel sentenced him to 99 years in prison.

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