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A Seattle-area preschool teacher saved two children from sexual abuse on Monday, just by being alert on an airplane.
According to San Jose police, the anonymous preschool teacher was on a flight from Seattle to San Jose when she saw a man in the seat in front of her sending text messages with disturbing content. That man, 56-year-old Michael Kellar, was using his smartphone with an enlarged font that allowed the anonymous passenger to read his messages.
The teacher soon realized that Kellar was texting someone else, asking them to molest young children, so she took pictures of the messages and told the flight crew. A San Jose police officer was promptly alerted once the plane landed.
“It was in large font, and she sees certain words and starts contemplating there’s something bigger there,” San Jose detective Nick Jourdenais said, according to the Mercury News. “Then the conversation transitions to children. That’s the moment when she decided to preserve the evidence as best as she could.”
Police and FBI agents detained Kellar and eventually tracked down the woman he was texting: 50-year-old Gail Burnworth, a babysitter for a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, both of whom Keller wasallegedly planning to have Burnworth sexually abuse, according to Q13 Fox News. Kellar and Burnworth had met on an online dating website.
“Extremely disturbing–some of the sex acts talked about not only molesting the children but performing bestiality,” San Jose Police Sgt. Brian Spears said, according to Fox.
Burnworth is currently being held at Pierce County jail in Washington for felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, rape of a child, and dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Meanwhile, Kellar was brought to Santa Clara County jail on two felony counts for attempted child molestation, and two felony counts of solicitation of a sex crime.
Police are now hailing the preschool teacher as a hero, saying that she was able to protect the young children from sexual assault.
“I’d like to highlight that if it wasn’t for this particular passenger taking action to alert the staff and alert the police, this catastrophic event would have been horrific,” Sgt. Spears told Fox. “In my eyes, she is our hero.”
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.