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Child porn convictions worry area parents

RELATED: See more crime news from the Fredericksburg region

By PAMELA GOULD

For a dozen years before his child pornography convictions, James Douglas Manring’s life revolved around children in the Fredericksburg area.

Manring, 54, admitted Monday to producing videos of himself sexually abusing at least five boys and two girls at a preschool in Japan between 1996 and 1999, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. He also acknowledged videotaping children there playing naked.

He is in federal custody and faces a minimum of 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced April 19 on two counts of producing child pornography, according to federal court records.

Since 2000, Manring has lived in southern Stafford and worked at local preschools, taught private music lessons and was active in martial arts at a North Stafford facility.

He came to the attention of federal authorities as part of a U.S. Postal Service investigation related to mailing materials involving sexual exploitation of children; using computers to exploit minors; or using computers to receive, possess or distribute child pornography, a federal affidavit states.

Manring’s name came up in the investigation as someone who had purchased exploitive videos, court records show. However, his charges relate to the videos he produced and brought back with him to the United States.

THE CHRONOLOGY

Manring lived in Japan from 1985 to 1999, according to his Facebook page and website.

His Facebook account also details his activities while living in Stafford. It provides an employment history that includes two local schools where he worked with young children as well as references to his involvement as a local music teacher.

Manring worked from 1981 through 1985 at the National Institutes of Health preschool in Bethesda, Md., his page shows and court documents corroborate.

Then he apparently moved to Japan. His website biography say he was in Tokyo from 1985 to 1999, pursuing music and working at a preschool.

The bio says it was a “trail-blazing move” for him to have gotten the preschool position.

“Not only was he the first ever Westerner to be employed as a Japanese preschool teacher, but the first Western male to break into this area of the Japanese society,” the bio states.

The crimes for which Manring was charged took place at Remei Hoikuen preschool between 1996 and 1999, according to court records and defense attorney Dickson J. Young of Fairfax.

In the Fredericksburg area, Manring claims he worked from September 2001 through June 2004 at Odyssey Montessori School, then located in Falmouth.

He worked at The Merit School of Prince William in Woodbridge from June 21, 2004, until Sept. 28, 2012, according to Chris Schuster, chief operating officer for corporate owner Minnieland Private Day Schools Inc. Manring claimed an earlier start date of October 2002.

Manring also reached out to children through music.

He worked at BANG! Music in North Stafford Plaza, initially in sales and then giving private lessons, owner Joe Kane said. Kane did not recall the exact dates Manring worked in sales, but said he gave guitar and drum lessons until shortly before his arrest.

It was there that Manring organized a rock band geared toward offering extra encouragement to special-needs children, Kane said.

Manring also claimed to teach guitar and drums at Picker’s Supply in Fredericksburg from January 2002 through October 2009.

He was active in martial arts as a student at Power Kix studio, which, like BANG! Music, is in North Stafford Plaza on Garrisonville Road.

He traveled with the group multiple times and was the oldest member of a 31-person team that went to Austin, Texas, in 2011 for a national competition. The youngest member was 7.

‘DEVASTATING’ NEWS

Joe Kane, owner of BANG! Music, had known Manring for years when he got a call last fall from an investigator with the U.S. Postal Service.

She didn’t provide details, but told him Manring wouldn’t be coming back.

Kane said he immediately notified customers, including by placing a note on the front counter of his store.

He then launched his own amateur investigation.

“I wanted to know. Was anybody victimized here or at any of the schools he was involved in? That was my primary concern,” Kane said.

He said the owner of his strip mall neighbor, Power Kix, contacted him after she too was notified by the Postal Service. They were both concerned about their students.

Kane said he eventually mailed a note to Manring, asking about the situation.

He said Manring called and admitted being guilty and told him he “has this sexual deviancy that he hates and can’t seem to shake and it came back to haunt him.”

But Kane said Manring told him he never touched a child in the United States in an inappropriate manner.

“He’d made a decision he would never act on it physically again,” Kane said.

Kane said that in his store, all music teachers give private lessons in glass-walled studios. He also said parents often sit in on the lessons.

After the Postal Service investigator contacted her last fall, Power Kix owner Arlene Limas said she reached out to families she knew had contact with Manring outside of her facility.

At that point, she knew only that Manring was accused of receiving videos that exploited children.

She said she was concerned because she knew some families had their children in one-on-one situations with Manring through music lessons in a studio or at his home.

Limas said she’s been left with a “knot in her stomach” since learning details of the crimes this week.

She said her business prides itself on being a place where people feel safe. She also said all employees go through a background check and receive training on how to recognize “dark” things such as child predators.

“He never gave us any indication there was something we should be concerned about, worried about,” she said. “He just seemed like he was a good guy.”

Neither the owner of Picker’s Supply nor the head of Odyssey Montessori School could be reached for comment this week.

Chris Schuster of Minnieland said Manring had worked at one of the schools teaching a “rizuma program,” which involves movement to music.

He said Manring was never alone with children and would never have been out of view of the site director because that school also has glass-enclosed rooms.

“We have no reason to believe that any inappropriate activity occurred at any of our schools,” Schuster said.

He said Minnieland had no problems with Manring and nothing showed up during required Virginia State Police and Child Protective Services background checks done as part of his application.

Kane said he felt betrayed when he learned of Manring’s conviction because he had been a popular instructor and had many friends in the community.

“You’re talking about the nicest guy in the world. Everybody loved him,” Kane said.

“He has friends out there that are devastated by this.”

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

CONTACT INFORMATION

Anyone with information of a possible crime should contact one of the local law enforcement agencies or the U.S. Postal Service Inspection Service, the agency that investigated the charges against Manring.

The Postal Service can be reached at 877/876-2455.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2013/02/02/child-porn-convictions-worries-area-parents/

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