We recently received the probable cause affidavit used to arrest Ryan Vermilion, the Marion High School counselor who was arrested on February 24th for an inappropriate relationship and sexual acts committed with a juvenile.
The Wells County Sheriff’s Department is the one that took Vermilion into custody, because the juvenile he committed these crimes against lives in Wells County and attends Norwell Community Schools. The name of this juvenile has been redacted in the affidavit, to protect her identity, but we have learned that the victim is a 13-year-old female.
This criminal relationship with Vermilion was first discovered by the principal at the victim’s school. Children in this school district are given iPads for their school work, and one day last week, during class, a group of students witnessed the victim using her iPad when electronics were not allowed to be used at that time. The students who witnessed the victim’s activities made a complaint to school staff, and the victim was sent to meet with the principal and hand over her iPad.
When the principal received the iPad, she began scrolling through it, only to discover the girl had been speaking with an unknown person on Google Hangouts, with whom the girl had been trading nude, sexual pictures. The affidavit claims that the girl “sent pictures and videos of her vagina, breasts, and buttocks” to this unknown person. In response, this person had sent her close-up pictures of a penis.
The principal had the school’s resource officer contact the Wells County Sheriff’s Department, who then asked the resource officer to contact and file a report with the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline.
Department of Child Services sent a case worker, Angie Vachon, to meet with the student, her mother, the principal, and Officer Swindell (the author of the probable cause affidavit).
It was later learned that the victim had also been communicating with this male, whom she believed was approximately her same age, on a second iPad belonging to her mother. Both the school iPad and the personal iPad were confiscated and permission was given to have them forensically examined.
In addition to nude pictures being sent back and forth, the male on the other end of the conversation often talked to the victim about meeting with her, despite having been told by the victim that she was only 14 years-old. (The victim lied to him about her age, as she is really only 13 years-old.) The male gave very descriptive, explicit details of sexual acts he wanted to perform on the victim. He often mentioned wanting to come to her house, and he even suggested that she needed to get a passport, so they could travel together outside of the country.
As stated, the victim told these adults that she believed the person on the other end of the conversation was around her age and that his name was “Will Ryan.” This person sent a photo of his face to the victim, and Officer Swindell comments in the affidavit that it was apparent to him the person was actually “a white male in or around his 40’s.”
When “Will Ryan” sent the victim this photo, he also told her “you can put that pic in google search and you will never find it btw because only I have it because it‘s me.” Officer Swindell says this statement was correct, because when he tried searching for the photo online, the search came up empty.
However, he sent the photo to the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, and they came back with some possible matches to the man’s face. Officer Swindell narrowed the matches down to one man: Ryan C. Vermilion. He looked up Vermilion’s driver’s license photo, and it was nearly an exact match to the photo that had been sent to the 13-year-old victim.
Ryan Vermilion was found to be a 46-year-old man who worked for Marion High School. The Marion Police Department managed to locate Vermilion’s home, and he was taken into custody on Monday, February 24, 2020.
Officer Swindell states in the affidavit that he believes Vermilion could face “multiple counts of child pornography, child exploitation, child solicitation” charges, and that additional investigating could result in even more charges against the school counselor. He estimated that, within the three months Vermilion communicated with this juvenile victim, there were dozens, if not hundreds of inappropriate photos and videos shared between the two.
From here, the investigation will likely focus on any electronic devices owned by Vermilion, and they will be examined thoroughly.
After Vermilion was taken into custody on Monday, Marion High School released a statement on the incident, which can be found in our original article, published on February 24th.
As previously stated, this is still an ongoing investigation. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.