An assistant coach at Hickman High School was arrested Thursday on felony charges of promoting and possessing child pornography. 

Benjamin Melvin, 25, was arrested after a detective with the Boone County Sheriff's Office watched a video tied to Melvin that showed a nude boy between the ages of 12 and 14.

Further investigation revealed similar videos of children around 14 years of age on a cell phone.

Melvin has been an assistant coach for soccer and boys basketball at Hickman, said Michelle Baumstark, spokesperson for Columbia Public Schools.

Assistant coaches are not salaried employees, she said. They receive a small stipend for coaching during a particular sports season. Stipends range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the sport and the number of coaches.

Melvin's first coaching assignment was in 2018, Baumstark said, and he has now been put on administrative leave pending further investigation. He no longer has access to schools, students and records.

Immediately after Thursday's arrest, a letter was sent to parents of student athletes on the teams Melvin coached, Baumstark said. The soccer season is already underway this summer.

The letter told parents that the assistant coach had been arrested and that steps had been taken to prevent him from any further interaction with the school and students.

"Safety plans and practices are in place for our students and staff, including our strong partnership with local law enforcement and comprehensive background checks for all hires," the letter read.

The letter continued by telling parents that the district was cooperating fully with law enforcement and continues to monitor the situation, taking further actions as necessary. School counselors have been made available to students.

According to a probable cause statement, Andy Evans of the Boone County Sheriff's Office Cyber Crimes Task Force said he received a tip July 1 from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

The online platform Discord had reported a suspicious video on its site to the center, which forwarded it to the Sheriff's Department. Using an IP address provided by Discord, the Cyber Crimes Task Force was able to trace the address to the suspect. 

Melvin admitted to creating the Discord account and uploading a video of a nude male under the age of 18 on his personal laptop, according to the probable cause statement. He also admitted to sharing the video on Discord.

Cyber Task Force investigators found the evidence on his cell phone in his home. 

Melvin's arraignment was set for Friday afternoon. 

  • General Assignment Reporter, Spring 2021 Studying Journalism with an emphasis in Magazine Writing Reach me at kelsy.armstrong@umsystem.edu, or in the newsroom at (573) 882-5700

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