General Crime

Russell Patrick Pfiester Former School Teacher Gets Prison for Downloading Child Porn

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A 44-year-old former Fremont high school teacher was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Oakland to 97 months in prison for downloading scores of child pornography videos. Russell Patrick Pfiester, formerly of Fremont, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers in February to charges of receiving and possessing videos depicting children engaging in sexual relations, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said.

In addition to the 97 months in prison, Hamilton also sentenced Pfiester to 10 years of supervised release during which he would be prohibited from being near where children gather, Haag said. Pfiester, a former teacher with no criminal history, showed by his past behavior that he lacked impulse control and could reoffend, according to prosecutors.

Pfiester was fired from his teaching position at John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont in 2012 after he allegedly photographed female students and used school computers to download and view pornography, prosecutors said. Even though he was allowed to resign from his teaching job and the school did not report his misconduct to authorities, he failed to take advantage of the opportunity and instead, amassed a collection of child sex videos, according to Haag.

Prosecutors alleged that Pfiester downloaded child pornography videos, some involving bondage and sexual abuse of children by adults, using a peer-to-peer, file-sharing network on the Internet. On June 15, 2012, investigators from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security executed a search warrant at the defendant’s home in Fremont and seized 128 videos from his laptop computer that showed children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to Haag.

Pfiester allegedly had personal experience with child sexual abuse and his sister also suffered sexual abuse as a child, federal prosecutors said. His Oakland-based attorney Anne Beles argued that Pfiester actually used child pornography for a limited period of time “at a low point in his life” while unemployed and lacking medication for depression and post-traumatic stress.

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