Suspended APS Kindergarten Teacher Arrested on Federal Child Pornography Charges
Prosecution Brought Under Project Safe Childhood
ALBUQUERQUE – Joshua Weitz, 39, of Albuquerque, N.M., made his initial appearance in federal court this morning on a criminal complaint charging him with distribution, receipt and possession of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Weitz remains in federal custody pending a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing, both of which are scheduled for November 13, 2015.
Weitz was arrested last night on the criminal complaint which alleges that he distributed, received and possessed child pornography between Oct. 11, 2015 and Oct. 22, 2015, in Bernalillo County, N.M. At the time, Weitz allegedly committed these offenses he was employed as a kindergarten teacher by the Albuquerque Pubic Schools (APS). APS suspended Weitz’s employment following his arrest earlier this month on related state charges.
According to the criminal complaint, the investigation into Weitz began on Oct. 11, 2015, when an agent of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force identified a computer with a specific IP address that was being used to share child pornography files. The criminal complaint alleges that between Oc. 11, 2015 and 22, 2015, the investigators were able to download a number of child pornography files from the computer at the IP address.
The criminal complaint alleges that further investigation revealed that the aforementioned IP address was subscribed to Weitz. On Nov. 4, 2015, a state court search warrant was executed at Weitz’ residence, and ICAC Task Force agents found Weitz allegedly in possession of a computer containing 40 files of child pornography. Weitz was arrested that day on related state charges which currently remain pending.
If convicted of the federal distribution or receipt of child pornography charges, Weitz faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison. If convicted of the federal possession of child pornography, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the New Mexico ICAC Task Force, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory with assistance from the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Mease is prosecuting the case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s 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 http://www.justice.gov/psc/.
The case also was brought as a part of the New Mexico ICAC Task Force’s mission, which is to locate, track, and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico. There are 80 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the New Mexico ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.