July 2, 2009
TEACHER PLEADS GUILTY TO CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES
(HOUSTON) – A teacher has been convicted of possessing child pornography after pleading guilty to the federal offense, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
Fernando Gonzalez, 34, a Houston resident and school teacher, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison. Sentencing has been set for Sept. 10, 2009, at which time Gonzalez faces a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted and a maximum fine of $250,000 as possible punishment. Upon completion of any prison term imposed, Gonzalez also faces a maximum of life on supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet.
The charges against Gonzalez are the result of an investigation conducted by members of the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force including the Pasadena Independent School District Police Department, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and Pct. 3 Constable’s Office. Gonzalez was a math teacher at Galena Independent School District’s North Shore High School. On May 14, 2008, students at the high school walked by a Gonzalez’ classroom and through a classroom window saw Gonzalez looking at images of child pornography on his school computer while Gonzalez fondling himself. The students told school administrators who immediately confronted Gonzalez. Gonzalez showed school officials a large box of containing 288 3.5" computer disks that he identified as containing child pornography. Gonzalez was allowed to leave the school grounds and police were called. A forensic exam of the school computers found nothing.
School officials turned over Gonzalez’ disks to law enforcement officials. A forensic examination of the disks found more than 4000 images of child pornography. Gonzalez later admitted to law enforcement officers he had more than 100 disks with pictures of naked little girls which he had obtained via the internet.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe.
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