North County

Investigators Seek Potential Victims of Retired North County High School Teacher Convicted in Child Pornography Case

A former Vista Unified School district teacher is accused of sexually abusing an underage girl over the course of eight years, according to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Tay Christopher Cooper, 67, is expected to be released within the next few weeks after pleading guilty in July 2018 to one count of possession of child pornography.

HSI agents said the former social studies teacher worked at Rancho Buena Vista High School for the majority of his 20-year long career.

"It's sad knowing we have those kinds of teachers here and not knowing," said Rancho Buena Vista High School parent Marisela Bautista.

Cooper retired in 2010, and then several years later, federal agents caught him with child porn.

"When we come across someone who's in a position of trust like a teacher, we become very concerned with the amount of access they have to children," said Cher Durst, assistant Special Agent with HSI San Diego.

Federal agents are now building a new case against the former North County teacher after one victim came forward, claiming Cooper sexually abused her over the course of eight years.

"They groom children, they pick individual ones and nurture them along and make them believe they are in a consensual relationship," said Durst.

Previously Cooper worked in Vista High School and in Burbank, where Durst said he received teacher of the year awards.

"He chaperoned kids to spring break trips to D.C., he ran multiple clubs in schools and after school and received accolades for the amount of time he was willing to spend with children," said Durst.

Anyone who may have had previous contact with Cooper or has information that may be relevant to the investigation is asked to call HSI San Diego at (760) 901-1004.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE, which is staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside of the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial (802) 872-6199. Hearing-impaired users can call TTY (802) 872-6196.

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