princeton – A former teacher and coach pleaded guilty Tuesday in Mercer County Circuit Court to charge of sending obscene matter with intent to seduce a minor.
James Stehlin, Jr, of Edenton, NC and formerly of Princeton, pleaded guilty before Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope to two counts of sending obscene matter with the intent to seduce a minor, according to Prosecuting Attorney Brian K. Cochran.
Stehlin was arrested in North Carolinia on Aug. 11, 2021, on Mercer County warrants for three counts of sending obscene matter with the intent to seduce a minor, and later indicated by the February 2022 Mercer County Grand Jury.
Stehlin faces up to 10 years in prison, and is set to be sentenced in August. He is a former teacher and coach in the Mercer County school system.
The victims were students at Princeton Middle School when Stehlin taught there, according to a criminal complaint filed by Detective-Sergeant SA Sommers of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department. However, it wasn’t until years later – when the victims were older – that the crimes occurred. At this time, Stehlin had moved out of state.
According to Sommers complaint, one victim said that around June 2020, Stehlin added her and several other juveniles to Snapchat and Facebook. The girls knew him as a previous teacher and accepted his friend requests.
“After adding them, Mr. Stehlin would make comments through Facebook Messenger and Snapchat about how they looked and how ‘grown up’ they have become, ”Sommers said.
Then, between June and July 2020, Stehlin sent obscene matter to the juveniles through Snapchat and Facebook Messenger, Sommers stated in the complaint.
Cochran praised the efforts of law enforcement in conducting a thorough investigation and thanked the child victims for their cooperation in Stehlin’s prosecution. He further stated that the charges against Stehlin do not stem from his employment in Mercer County.
“Stehlin was not employed by Mercer County schools at the time of these crimes,” Cochran said.
“We have excellent teachers and coaches throughout Mercer County who are dedicated to the education, well-being and safety of our kids. I am confident that his crimes are not in any way a reflection on our school system or athletic departments. ”
The state was represented by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Adam Wolfe, and Stehlin was represented by attorney John Williams.
Stehlin currently remains incarcerated at Southern Regional jail pending sentencing.