School Occupational Therapist Charged With Sexual Exploitation Of A Child And Receipt And Distribution Of Child Pornography
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Christie M. Curtis, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of a two-count Indictment charging SANDY CARAZAS-PINEZ with enticing a minor victim to engage in illegal sexual activity and production of child pornography. As alleged in the Indictment, CARAZAS-PINEZ, a former high school teacher in Yonkers, New York, enticed one of her students, who was only 16 years old at the time, to engage in sexual activity with CARAZAS-PINEZ and further induced the same student to participate in live-streamed sexually explicit conduct while on video calls with CARAZAS-PINEZ. CARAZAS-PINEZ was arrested this morning and will be presented in Manhattan federal court later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge John P. Cronan.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Sandy Carazas-Pinez exploited the trust placed in her as a teacher to sexually abuse a teenage student in her care. Today’s indictment makes clear that my Office will continue to tirelessly pursue sexual predators of all forms – especially those who are entrusted to care for children – and hold them accountable to the fullest extent under the law.”
FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge Christie M. Curtis said: “As alleged, Ms. Carazas-Pinez, a former high school teacher, enticed one of her students to engage in sexual activity and live-stream sexually explicit conduct. Teachers are entrusted to protect children under their supervision, not bring them harm. As today’s action demonstrates, the FBI remains steadfast in our commitment to bring justice to those who prey upon our youth.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
CARAZAS-PINEZ was a high school teacher at a school for kindergarten through 12th grade students located in Yonkers, New York (“School-1”). From in or about November 2022 through in or about February 2023, CARAZAS-PINEZ abused her position as a teacher at School-1 by inducing and attempting to induce a student (“Minor Victim-1”) at School-1 into a sexual relationship with CARAZAS-PINEZ. Minor Victm-1 was 16 years old at the time of the abuse.
CARAZAS-PINEZ singled out Minor Victim-1 for personal attention at School-1. In addition, CARAZAS-PINEZ induced Minor Victim-1 to engage in sexual activity with her by leading Minor Victim-1 to believe that they were in a romantic relationship.
CARAZAS-PINEZ used her personal cellphone to call, text, and video call Minor Victim-1 to arrange sexual encounters and to repeatedly induce Minor Victim-1 to engage in live-streamed sexually explicit conduct while on video calls with CARAZAS-PINEZ. In text messages with Minor Victim-1, CARAZAS-PINEZ referred to her sexual encounters with Minor Victim-1 and the live depictions of sexually explicit conduct she induced Minor Victim-1 to create as “gifts.”
CARAZAS-PINEZ also used her personal cellphone to send Minor Victim-1 sexually suggestive photographs of herself along with sexually explicit text messages. After sending the photographs and messages, CARAZAS-PINEZ instructed Minor Victim-1 to delete them and inquired repeatedly as to whether Minor Victim-1 had done so.
To facilitate their sexual encounters outside the premises of School-1, CARAZAS-PINEZ directed Minor Vicitim-1 in text messages to obtain day passes from School-1 to be permitted to leave campus. CARAZAS-PINEZ then met Minor Victim-1 at a location near School-1’s campus and drove Minor Victim-1 to another location. On multiple occasions, while parked in CARAZAS-PINEZ’s car at various locations, including in or around the Bronx, Yonkers, and Staten Island, New York, CARAZAS-PINEZ engaged in sexual intercourse and other sexual acts, and attempted to do so, with Minor Victim-1.
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CARAZAS-PINEZ, 34, of Bethel, Connecticut, is charged with one count of enticing a minor victim to engage in illegal sexual activity, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of production of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
The minimum and maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Williams praised the efforts of the FBI and the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) for their outstanding work on this matter, particularly the FBI-NYPD New York Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. Mr. Williams also thanked the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for their significant assistance and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office, and the Yonkers Police Department for their assistance. He added that the investigation is ongoing.
Any individuals who believe they have information that may be relevant to this investigation should contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit in the Criminal Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitzi S. Steiner is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.