A former Howard County substitute teacher and Columbia resident pleaded guilty to 19 counts related to child pornography Wednesday morning in connection with two cases involving 18 minors, including 14 Howard County public school students.
Jeremy Sykes, 44, of Hesperus Drive in Columbia, is charged with using yearbook photos and other photos to digitally alter pornographic images so that the faces of the minors were depicted on the bodies of others, who police say were committing sexual acts.
On Wednesday, Sykes pleaded guilty to 18 charges of using a computer to depict or describe a minor engaging in a sexual act, and to one count of sexual abuse of a minor.
Police were able to link Sykes to the crime after police discovered numerous digitally altered images were uploaded to the online image hosting company Photobucket from two separate computers: one from Sykes' home in Columbia and one from a computer at Folly Quarter Middle School, where Sykes was a technology education teacher in the fall 2013.
Sykes was arrested in January and charged with two counts of child pornography. He was indicted on the child sex abuse charge in February after further investigation by police. In May, police charged him with an additional 50 counts of child pornography after the investigation revealed more photos.
Sykes has been banned from school grounds.
According to the statement of the facts, investigators found more than 1,000 images of child pornography on electronic storage devices seized from Sykes.
Sykes will be sentenced on Jan. 12.
The prosecution told the judge at Wednesday's plea hearing that they will seek a prison term of almost 17 years, according to State's Attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan.