A 50-year-old Whitman Middle School teacher was charged Tuesday with possession of child pornography following a police investigation sparked...

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A 50-year-old Whitman Middle School teacher was charged Tuesday with possession of child pornography following a police investigation sparked by a former girlfriend’s complaint.

Timothy Sheehan, a 24-year-veteran of the Seattle School District who most recently taught video production at the Crown Hill-area school, was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case, school-district officials said.

Sheehan was charged in King County Superior Court with one count of possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, a class C felony, which carries a standard sentence range of up to one year in jail.

Sheehan’s former girlfriend went to police in May, shortly after the couple broke up, and said that Sheehan had professed he was a “pedophile and a boy lover and a pederast and … a rapist,” according to court documents filed in Superior Court. His increasingly violent fantasies about raping and killing young boys were the reason she finally broke up with him, she said.

The woman told officers that Sheehan had pornographic images of children on a laptop computer in his home and professed that he was attracted to her because she looked like a “little boy.”

Police questioned the teacher and executed a search warrant at his North Seattle home May 21, seizing computers, a hard drive, numerous compact discs, videocassettes and other items. According to charging papers, Sheehan had 39 images on his computer that were downloaded in 2004 of what appeared to be 11- to 13-year-old boys engaged in sexual acts.

In a letter dated June 1, Whitman Principal Robert Kogane wrote, “the current allegations do not involve any of our students … .” Seattle School District officials said they are conducting their own review of Sheehan’s employment.

Members of Sheehan’s family issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying they support Sheehan and are “confident the justice system will fairly address and resolve this matter.”

Sheehan, who is not in custody, is scheduled to be arraigned at the King County Courthouse on Tuesday. Prosecutors said they intend to ask he be held on $10,000 bail.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com