UPDATE: More charges possible for retired Merrimack teacher, students react to arrest
MERRIMACK — More charges could be possible for a recently retired Merrimack High School teacher who is accused of sending nude photos and videos, as well as inappropriate e-mails and text messages, to an underage student.
Merrimack Police said Robert Todd Wiley, 63, allegedly sent photos and videos of himself "manipulating his genitals" to the female student. He also allegedly solicited similar materials from her.
"The student's parents had obtained videos and text messages and e-mails and photographs from Mr. Wiley that were highly inappropriate," said Lt. Denise Roy of the Merrimack Police Department. "Obviously, they were very concerned and came to us right away."
Roy said that was over Columbus Day weekend, and the department notified the school immediately.
After a warrant was put out for Wiley's arrest, Roy said he turned himself in. He is charged with one felony count of criminal solicitation to the manufacturing of images of child abuse and four misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
However, police also said more charges could be coming.
"We have seized all of Mr. Wiley’s electronic equipment," Roy said. "There could be other charges coming depending upon what is found after the search of the equipment. Investigations like this can be very lengthy."
She added at this time that it appears there is only the one victim in this case, though they will look for more as the investigation continues.
Wiley was released on Monday evening after posting $20,000 cash bail. Later that night, the Merrimack School Board also approved Wiley's request to retire. He taught in the district for the last 37 years.
On Tuesday, students said talk of the arrest - which was made public after school was over on Monday - buzzed around the school all day, despite the fact that administrators made announcements asking both teachers and students not to discuss it.
The school also made counseling services available to students if they needed it.
"It is what it is," said Dawson Batchelder, one of Wiley's students. "He made the choices he made, this is the punishment he gets."
Batchelder said his father also had Wiley as a teacher, and the family was shocked when they heard the news.
"Angry, frustrated, annoyed," he said while describing his reaction. "I just didn’t understand what happened. I thought the accusations were wrong but I mean, it’s been proven that it’s happened. I think it’s crazy."
Others said they would've never expected Wiley would be capable of such things, many describing him as one of their favorite teachers.
"We would always have a good time with him and we’d always like joke around," student Brendan Parr said. "I would’ve never thought he would do something like that."
Some even described the accusations as hard to believe.
"I think people know, if the allegations are true, that you can’t respect him, you can’t appreciate anything he does," said Pat Manning, another one of Wiley's former students. "I think everyone doesn’t want to believe it."
Manning said students have also taken to social media to weigh in on the subject, using the hashtag "Free Wiley."
"It's more of a joke just to start trending, it's not serious," he said, explaining he doesn't think students are actually taking the accusations lightly.
As such, Lt. Roy said this is an opportunity for parents to discuss the issues this case poses with their children, and there are resources in the state to help.
"Any time you have an educator who's faced with these type of charges, it actually shocks the conscious to think that you send your children to school and something like this could happen," she said. "We just encourage parents to take this opportunity to talk to their children about inappropriate behaviors with authority figures. It's just an important time, and if they have any questions, we'd be more than happy to help them out."
The department is also asking anyone with further information about this case to contact the Merrimack Police.