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Culpeper choir director denied bond in teen sexting case

A well-known Culpeper church choir instructor and former public schools employee will continue to be held in jail without bond eligibility in a sexting investigation involving a 16-year-old male.

Craig Alexander “Alex” Smith, 47, appeared for a video conference Tuesday in Culpeper Juvenile & Relations Court to seek release on felony charges of using a computer to solicit nude photos from a minor and taking indecent liberties with a child.

Orange County defense attorney Amy Harper is representing Smith.

Substitute 16th Circuit JDR Judge Gil Berger denied Harper’s motion for bond in the case due to the nature of the charges involving children, according to a court official.

The alleged crimes occurred June 21, 2022, involving a Culpeper County High School student. Smith was a special education paraprofessional at CCHS in a collaborative setting during the 2021-22 school year.

He did not direct any choir classes for CCPS, division spokeswoman Laura Hoover said.

Smith was slated to become a long-term substitute for CCHS choir in the 2022-23 school year, starting Aug. 10, but is no longer employed with the school division.

He was also choir director and worship leader at Culpeper Baptist Church and director of the regional Blue Ridge Chorale. 

Three people—Smith’s mother and two church members—spoke in his favor at Tuesday’s bond hearing.

Culpeper County prosecutors argued against his release.

Berger, in an order after the hearing, revoked a $2,000 secured bond set July 12 by a magistrate when Smith was first arrested on the charges.

Berger continued the case for a preliminary hearing Sept. 23 in Culpeper JDR Court.

Harper immediately appealed the bond denial to Circuit Court. That appeal will be heard at 1 p.m. Aug. 8 in Judge Dale Durrer’s courtroom.

Harper did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Smith’s behalf.

A preliminary hearing in the case could be delayed until October as prosecutors await forensics results from Smith’s cell phone and iPad, according to the court official.

The case against Smith surfaced after a local mother reported her 16-year-old son was given a phone as well as rides home from work from a teacher.

The mother told authorities she felt the teacher might be grooming the teen for sex, according to the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office.

When questioned by police, Smith admitted he asked the teen for photos of his genitalia.

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