Documents outline charges against Smyrna teacher

DOVER — A Smyrna High teacher and coach allegedly told police he bought condoms before driving to an undisclosed Dover park to have sex with a girl he believed to be 14 years old, authorities said in court documents.

An affidavit of probable cause detailed alleged actions that brought two felony charges against Joshua Rutherford, 35, of the first block of Field Maple Drive in Camden-Wyoming, who was arrested March 11.

He immediately was placed on unpaid leave by the school district pending the outcome of the case.

Mr. Rutherford was taken into custody without incident as part of an undercover Delaware State Police investigation into alleged child sexual exploitation, a trooper said in court papers.

Joshua Rutherford

Joshua Rutherford

Charges included sexual solicitation of a child under 18 to engage in prohibited sexual act and attempted dealing in child pornography. Mr. Rutherford initially was arraigned through Justice of Peace Court 2 in Rehoboth Beach and then held at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna in lieu of $50,000 secured bail.

The undercover operation began on Feb. 15 when a detective placed an ad in the personals section of an online social website, police wrote in the affidavit.

“This ad was placed in the section typically used for attempts at quick, anonymous meetings for sex,” according to the detective.

Police alleged a person later identified as Mr. Rutherford responded on or about the same day via text message and began a chat relationship with a detective described as a “witness” in court papers. The exchanges continued nearly every night for the next few weeks, authorities said.

According to police in papers, conversations “were always about what sexual activity (witness) had done in the past with his 14-year-old daughter and how Rutherford could meet for sex with this young girl and not get in trouble.

“His only concern was getting caught because he could get in a lot of trouble.”

During the series of chats, police said in papers, Mr. Rutherford allegedly said “he had met an underage girl online in the past for sex.

“Rutherford stated that he had met other women online and met them at various places for sex …”

Also, according to police, Mr. Rutherford allegedly said he’s received a nude photo online from a 16-year-old girl.

“Rutherford stated all his images on all his devices are password protected so his wife cannot see them,” police said in documents. “He further advised he kept all these images of this kind of activity on his ‘cloud’ account.”

Mr. Rutherford “wanted to make sure this was not a police sting,” the trooper wrote in papers. He also allegedly requested nude images of the girl from whom he believed was the father, according to police.

According to the Department of Justice in a news release, Mr. Rutherford’s home was searched after a warrant was obtained, as was the vehicle he was driving.

A laptop computer was seized by detectives along with numerous USB thumb drives and other related evidence.

More charges could be brought after the evidence was examined, the Department of Justice said.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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