A one-time math teacher at Diablo Vista Middle School, a 59-year-old man (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) has recently been charged with the aggravated possession of child pornography (a federal charge) after an investigation by the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Law enforcement officials claim to have evidence, resulting from a search of the man’s home in Contra Costa County, that this individual was in possession of approximately 600 different sexual images of children, stored on devices like his home computer and also on DVDs. Reports say that the teacher has been given temporary administrative leave with the San Ramon Valley Unified School District and that there is no evidence that any students from Diablo Vista Middle were affected.
Federal law (18 United States Code 2251, 2252, and 2252A) makes it illegal to possess, distribute, produce, or receive any sexual images of children. When federal law enforcement authorities become involved in a case, it is usually because the transmission or reception of the images is considered to violate interstate or foreign commerce. A first-time conviction under these laws normally results in hefty fines and prison sentences, ranging from 15-30 years in a federal facility.
However, ‘aggravated’ possession of child pornography is a different matter. Federal prosecutors will typically determine that possession of child pornography is ‘aggravated’ when the images are violent or have clearly involved the abuse of the minor depicted in the images. Additionally, possession of child pornography could also be considered ‘aggravated’ if the alleged offender has prior convictions relating to the exploitation of children. Under these particular circumstances, a conviction relating to the violation of the aforementioned laws will likely result in life in prison.
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