Clay County school bus driver arrested in child-porn case

Police say Marion Keith Nichols was charged with 13 counts of possession of photos.

A 56-year-old Clay County school bus driver and former candidate for superintendent was arrested Wednesday after multiple images of child pornography were found in the trash at his home in Green Cove Springs, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Marion Keith Nichols of Ron Road was charged with 13 counts of possession of photographs showing sexual performance by a child and remains behind bars on $125,000 bail, according to jail records. His arrest report indicates that some of the charges relate to images depicting sadomasochistic abuse.

According to Clay County Supervisor of Elections, Marion also ran to be Clay County Schools Superintendent.

In a statement issued Thursday morning, Sheriff Darryl Daniels said this type of crime will not be tolerated, calling it “a serious problem and we are cracking down on those who commit heinous acts on our kids.” School district officials are investigating and have released the following statement: 

Marion Keith Nichols is currently a bus driver with Clay County District Schools. Nichols is suspended pending the outcome of an investigation by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. The District hired Nichols in 2008 after an extensive background check required for all employees. His last assignment as a bus driver included a route with a monitor, which means another adult was on the bus.
“As a district, we are shocked by the allegations regarding Mr. Nichols as well as devastated if found true. The District would like to reassure families and staff that at no time during the employment of Mr. Nichols were there any concerns relating to the current charges brought to our attention. We will continue to partner with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office as they lead this investigation,” said Superintendent Addison Davis.
There is no further information available at this time. Please contact the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for questions regarding the investigation.

Nichols’ arrest warrant states that investigators received a tip on May 14 saying he was in possession of child pornography. Investigators spoke with him May 26 and asked him if he had or had downloaded any child pornography. His responses are blacked out on the warrant.

On May 27 investigators checked a garbage can at his home and found discarded envelopes and letters with his name and address, as well as “numerous electronic devices,” according to the warrant. The Sheriff’s Office redacted information on what was in those letters or on the devices. But it states that the Child Protection Team did examine images that were collected and “believes several of the lewd images of the females are children.”

The Sheriff’s Office said it executed a search warrant at Nichols’ house July 28 and found several images and videos of child exploitation.

Nichols was an often vocal visitor to recent School Board meetings where he spoke out about issues regarding student safety, district spending and employee working conditions. He also ran for superintendent in 2016 as a write-in candidate. A bus driver for about eight years, according to his campaign information, he also is a U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force veteran.

First Coast News has reached out multiple times to Clay School officials to find out the route that Nichols drove on daily basis and school officials said they aren't releasing the info at the moment.

The Sheriff’s Office said Nichols’ arrest was the latest of several made since February involving child exploitation:

Jason Peter Fruish, 39, of Orange Park was arrested July 13 on charges of soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct using a computer and possession of child pornography. Investigators said an online relationship with a minor, with lewd images sent to the child, was part of its investigation.

Kevin Michael Steedley, 27, of Green Cove Springs was arrested July 5 on three counts of possession of child pornography after explicit images and videos of children were uncovered.

Anthony Mark Jacobs, 21, of Middleburg was arrested July 5 on charges of using a computer to solicit, lure or entice a child and transmission of harmful material to a child after lewd images were sent via computer to a minor.

Rashawn Dante McCloud, 23, of Jacksonville was arrested Feb. 24 on a charge of transmission of harmful material to a child after an Orange Park minor was solicited for sex online.

Read more on the Florida Times-union. 

Florida Times-Union


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