A former South Bay high school teacher who pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography was sentenced to 97 months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Roberto Antonio Sandoval previously admitted to downloading and owning thousands of images of child pornography, some of which depicted children under the age of 12, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Sandoval once worked as 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.
FBI agents took Roberto Antonio Sandoval into custody on Jan. 21, 2016 at his mother’s home, where Sandoval had been living.
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, 2016, 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.
After Sandoval's arrest, District officials 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.”
District Judge Sammartino said during the sentencing hearing that Sandoval's behavior is disturbing because the material will always be on the internet.
“The conduct in this case exemplifies a horrific and dark part of our society. Every time a sexually explicit image or video of a minor is downloaded and viewed, the child who's shown is victimized again,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum in a statement. “The FBI will continue to work tirelessly to uncover the darkness and fight for the children who have fallen prey to these predators. The sentence today reflects the harm caused by individuals who trade in these heinous materials.”
When released, Sandoval will be under 10 years of supervised release.