August 17th, 2007 13:50 EST
Pahrump middle school teacher charged with possessing child pornography
LAS VEGAS - A fifth grade teacher with the Nye County School District appeared in federal court yesterday to answer to charges of possessing and receiving child pornography over the Internet, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Michael Gogerty, 41, and a resident of Las Vegas, was taken into custody yesterday morning by ICE agents in the parking lot of a Las Vegas area shopping center. Gogerty is employed at the Hafen Elementary School in Pahrump, Nev., where he has taught for the last two years. School district officials advise that Gogerty has been suspended without pay.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the investigation into Gogerty began after ICE received a tip from the Toronto Police Services Sex Crime Unit that a child pornography video file had been posted on the Internet via "yousendit.com." Subscriber information supplied by the Internet provider led ICE agents to the Las Vegas address where Gogerty resides.
During a consensual search of Gogerty's home, investigators discovered numerous images and video files containing child pornography on his computer. Agents seized more than 200 CDs and floppy disks which, according to Gogerty, contained images of prepubescent minors engaged illicit sexual conduct. Further investigation determined that Gogerty's computer contained more than 250 video files with names indicating child pornography.
"This case is particularly troubling because of the suspect's position of trust, and it is a clear reminder of ICE's resolve to search out predators who use the Internet to sexually exploit innocent children," said Richard Curry, assistant special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Las Vegas. "Some predators mistakenly believe the anonymity of cyberspace shields them from scrutiny; in fact, their use of computers and the Internet have given us new tools in our enforcement efforts to protect children."
At yesteday's hearing, the judge held that Gogerty was a danger to the community and ordered him to remain in custody. If convicted of the charges, Gogerty faces a maximum 30 years in prison, and $500,000 fine.
Gogerty's arrest is part of Operation Predator, an ongoing ICE enforcement initiative launched in 2003 to identify, investigate, arrest and, in the case of foreign nationals, deport child sex predators. Overall, the initiative has resulted in more than 10,000 arrests nationwide, including more than 85 in Nevada.
ICE encourages the reporting of suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline. The number, 1-866-DHS-2ICE, is monitored 24 hours a day. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
-- ICE --