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April 18, 2014

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Former CCSD teacher facing kidnapping, porn charges may need to find new attorney

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L.E. Baskow

Melvyn Sprowson looks to his defense attorney John Momot as he presents an argument for him during a preliminary hearing on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 | 5:33 p.m.

Melvyn Sprowson In Court

Defense attorney John Momot presents an argument for Melvyn Sprowson looking down during a preliminary hearing on Monday,  Dec. 9, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The District Court arraignment for a former kindergarten teacher accused of harboring a runaway teen and producing pornography with her has been continued so his defense team can evaluate if it can continue to represent him.

Hearing Master Melisa De La Garza today set a new Jan. 29 hearing date for Melvyn Perry Sprowson Jr., 45, Las Vegas. A Las Vegas Township judge last week bound over Sprowson for trial in District Court on four counts of unlawful use of a minor in the production of pornography, one count of first-degree kidnapping and one count of child abuse, neglect or endangerment with substantial bodily or mental harm.

Longtime defense attorney John Momot represents Sprowson but was not in court today. Yi Lin Zheng, an attorney in Momot’s firm, declined to answer questions about what was under evaluation except to repeat the firm continued to evaluate the case and hoped to stay on it.

The charges stem from Sprowson’s relationship with a 16-year-old girl he met on Criagslist after posting an ad titled “Lonely millionaire.” The two started messaging, which evolved into secret meet-ups, sexting and, eventually, wedding plans.

The high school sophomore ran away from home in late August to live with Sprowson after the teen’s mother uncovered the relationship. Although a 16-year-old in Nevada can legally consent to sex, it is illegal to keep a minor from his or her parents, even if the minor consents, according to Nevada law.

During an emotional preliminary hearing the girl testified she ran away because she wanted to live with Sprowson.

“If you don’t come get me, I’m going to kill myself,” the girl testified she told Sprowson. “Either he picked me up or I would die that night.”

Both the mother and daughter testified during the preliminary hearing, revealing details about the daughter’s devotion to Sprowson and the mother’s battle to keep her daughter safe.

The girl testified she and Sprowson’s plan had been for her to get emancipated, get her high school equivalency diploma and go to college and for them to live together.

“In a perfect scenario, my mom would have done the right thing, but she can’t accept that,” the girl testified.

“I’m here to protect my children,” the mother said in her testimony. “Something like that is not OK with me.”

Sprowson is also charged with two misdemeanors related to the case: contributing to the delinquency of a minor and giving a false statement to a police officer.

Sprowson started a job in August at Wengert Elementary School as a kindergarten teacher but is no longer employed with the Clark County School District. He came to Las Vegas after he resigned as a fifth-grade teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District in January 2013. During his nearly decade-long tenure in California, Sprowson faced allegations of sexual abuse involving female students in fourth and fifth grade. Sprowson was investigated but never charged and did not lose his teaching license.

He remains in Clark County Detention Center with bond set at $650,000.

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