Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Feds indict former educator for child porn

November 24, 2004

A former De Soto USD 232 high school administrator was indicted last week on charges of possession of child pornography.

The 34-year-old man, who lives in Olathe, was among 15 people indicted Nov. 17 in unrelated Kansas child pornography and sexual predator cases. U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren announced the indictments during a conference Thursday in Wichita to draw attention to the problem of child pornography.

The Explorer does not publish names of people charged with sex crimes until they plead guilty or have been convicted.

On April 7, federal authorities found more than 600 images of child pornography on the administrator's computer, according to the indictment. The pornography included sexually explicit images of prepubescent minors, the indictment states.

In May, the administrator resigned from his post at the school, citing personal reasons. At that time, he did not indicate plans for another job.

The indictment did not specify if the computer searched was at the defendant's home or work.

However, De Soto USD 232 spokesman Alvie Cater said the investigation had not involved the school district. Because the defendant is no longer employed at the school, the district would not comment further on the matter, Cater said.

The indicted man was charged with one count of possession of child pornography. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

As of Tuesday, he had not yet been arrested. An arraignment date will be set following his appearance in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

Although evidence cited in Thursday's 15 indictments dates back to January 2003, U.S. attorney spokesman Jim Cross said one-at-a-time releases were often overlooked. The attorney released these in a group to raise concern about a dangerous problem, Cross said.

"We just lumped them all together for the purpose of trying to get some attention," he said. "The conclusion we draw is that children are in jeopardy, and we think if the people were more aware of this problem, that will help kids be safer."

Most children depicted in pornography are between 6 and 12 years old, though sometimes even infants are victimized, Melgren said.

"We can only hint at the despicable, repulsive images in which children, many of whom have not reached the age of puberty, have been used for the sexual pleasure of adults," he said in a prepared statement. "Each one is an enduring record of an act of sexual abuse against a child."

Kansas teachers and administrators must undergo background checks when they apply for licenses from the state. A prior record of sexual misconduct would prevent them from getting a license.

No current Kansas law requires individual school districts to conduct background checks on employees in addition to those conducted by the state.

However, background information and fingerprints would only be on file for someone with a prior conviction.

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