A 40-year-old substitute teacher and high school coach in Fresno pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal child pornography charges.
Clovis resident John Whitley Richards was a walk-on assistant coach for the softball, wrestling and football teams at Fresno High School, as well as a substitute teacher since 2008 in the Fresno Unified School District.
Richards was indicted by a federal grand jury in Fresno on July 21, but was not arrested until Monday.
A statement from Fresno Unified indicated the district learned of the allegations more than a month earlier – on June 29 – and "took immediate action that resulted in his resignation as a walk-on coach. He was also immediately dismissed from our district as a substitute teacher."
According to federal officials Richards faces charges of receiving and sharing child pornography images between August 2008 and June of this year.
On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Oberto released Richards to the custody of his sister, but ordered that he not be alone with her 8-year-old daughter or 15-year-old son.
Prosecutor Brian Enos initially sought to have Richards remain in the Fresno County Jail until his case is resolved, but then said Richards could be released to his sister.
Enos said there was no evidence that Richards had any improper conduct with students.
Richards' family members left the courthouse without talking to news media, and his court-appointed attorney, Ann Voris, declined to comment.