GULFPORT, Miss. — A Mississippi math teacher admitted that he molested at least eight teenagers over a period of four decades, largely during out-of-state trips, including to Oregon, authorities said Thursday.
The victims were all students at Bayou View Junior High School in Gulfport, where William Richard Pryor taught between 1973 and 2005, according to a criminal complaint and an affidavit filed by the FBI. Pryor appeared in U.S. District Court in Gulfport on Thursday.
He was turned over to U.S. marshals to be held until a preliminary and detention hearing Tuesday on charges of transportation of minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
U.S. Attorney Gregory Davis said in a statement that the alleged molestation occurred in Mississippi and at least a half dozen other states where Pryor traveled with the victims. One of the victims told the FBI that the molestation occurred during a summer trip Pryor organized.
FBI agent Matthew Campbell said two victims were interviewed this week and Pryor was arrested Tuesday after he talked with agents and confirmed the victims’ accounts, according to the affidavit.
“Pryor provided a voluntary statement to the agents wherein he confessed to molesting eight children when they were 13 or 14 years old. Pryor stated the molestations began in the mid-1970s at Bayou View Junior High and ended in 2005 at Bayou View Junior High,” Campbell stated in the affidavit.
Pryor was working as a math teacher at St. Patrick High School in Gulfport when he was arrested Tuesday. Catholic Diocese of Biloxi Superintendent Mike Ladner said Pryor resigned Tuesday.
A federal public defender was assigned to represent Pryor.
In his affidavit, Campbell said Pryor gave details about abuse that allegedly took place during out-of-state trips in 1996, 2004, 2005. Campbell said Pryor also gave details of molestations that occurred in the 1980s, and one from the 1990s that happened in Gulfport.
Most of the alleged abuse happened during trips Pryor took with the students to California, Montana, Colorado, Oregon and Georgia, prosecutors said.