A South Bay high school teacher has been arrested on suspicion of distributing child pornography, according to court records.
FBI agents took Roberto Antonio Sandoval into custody on Jan. 21 at his mother’s home, where Sandoval had been living.
Sandoval is a teacher in Chula Vista High’s learning center, an independent study and alternative education program with about 100 high school students, according to Sweetwater Union High School District spokesman Manny Rubio.
Sandoval was placed on paid leave last week, though Rubio said that will probably change after the district’s next board meeting on Feb. 8.
FBI investigators came to suspect Sandoval when they downloaded suspected child pornography files from a peer-to-peer file sharing program on Aug. 9.
According to a federal complaint, an agent downloaded six files from a certain internet protocol (IP) address. Most of the files showed images of prepubescent, naked girls engaging in sexual activity or bestiality, the investigator said.
On Aug. 24, the Department of Justice subpoenaed Cox Communications to find out which subscriber was linked to the IP address. The company said the account belonged to Roberto Sandoval, according to the complaint.
The FBI soon learned Sandoval had moved to his mother’s house on Franklin Avenue with his 7-year-old daughter.
On Jan. 21, FBI agents served a federal search warrant to the home, and the suspect's mother confirmed all the computers in the house belonged to Sandoval alone, the complaint said.
On Sandoval’s desktop computer and external hard drive, the FBI said they found multiple images of young girls in various states of undress.
Sandoval appeared in federal court Tuesday for a detention hearing, during which he waived his right to the setting of bail, according to court documents.
Sandoval’s attorney, Keith Rutman, told NBC 7 he has no comment on this story.
The Sweetwater School District spokesman said Sandoval has been working with the district since 2000.
District officials have notified staff and parents of students in the learning center about Sandoval’s arrest. Rubio released the following statement:
“As far as we are concerned in terms of safety, the first thing we want to do is make sure our students are OK. We have talked to parents and the community about that’s going on. We have gone through all the appropriate channels, we have resources available if someone needs them. It is our understanding that everything that happened occurred off campus and outside of his scope of work at the district.”
According to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Sandoval cleared his background check for his credentialing program in 1998. The following year, he received his credential in math and instrumental music, which does not expire until September 2018.
Sandoval has never been disciplined by the commission.