CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A longtime juvenile parole officer pleaded guilty Thursday in a federal hearing to possessing child pornography and trying to send a sexually explicit photo to a child.

A judge accepted Jason Ellis’ plea and scheduled sentencing for Sept. 26. A plea agreement filed in federal court calls for Ellis, of Derry, to be sentenced to 11 years in prison on the two charges, with prosecutors dropping a third charge of distributing child pornography.

Ellis was fired from his juvenile parole job in February, a week after his arrest and 2½ years after being placed on suspension. He also had worked at New Hampshire’s state-run youth detention center, where he has been accused in a lawsuit of abusing a teenage boy.

According to an FBI affidavit, Ellis sent online messages in 2020 and 2021 to undercover investigators posing as a 13-year-old girl and her father. Investigators say he expressed interest in having sex with the girl and sent her an explicit photo in February 2021.

According to the plea agreement, Ellis also appeared to have chatted online with children as young as age 14, frequently sending explicit photos and sometimes soliciting nude images.

Ellis began his state employment in 2003 as a counselor at the Youth Development Center in Manchester. In 2005, he became a juvenile probation and parole officer, while also working part-time at the youth center from 2011-2012.

In 2017, he was fired over allegations that he used his state computer for personal email and spent “an inordinate amount of time on the internet for personal reasons,” according to the state personnel appeals board. He was reinstated after an appeal.

The timing of Ellis’ suspension coincides with the launching of a broad criminal investigation into the Youth Development Center, now called the Sununu Youth Services Center.

Eleven former workers were arrested last year, and nearly 450 former residents have sued the state based on allegations involving more than 150 staffers from 1963 to 2018.

Most of the lawsuits are nearly identical and include few specifics other than the timeframe of the alleged abuse and the names of those accused. One of them accuses Ellis and another former employee of unspecified abuse involving a teenage boy between 2003 and 2006. They are not formal defendants in the case, however, but rather are identified within the lawsuit.

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