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Child Exploitation

Former El Cajon preschool teacher pleads guilty to child pornography charges

ICE HSI probe nabs child predators sharing sexually explicit images of minors via the Internet

SAN DIEGO – A 24-year-old former preschool teacher and part-time babysitter pleaded guilty Thursday to six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor following a year-long probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Corey James Loftin, 24, of El Cajon, Calif., admitted to the felony charges and agreed to a stipulated minimum sentence of 40 years in prison. The charges are subject to final acceptance by U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 24.

According to the plea agreement, between 2008 to April 2011, Loftin communicated online with two minor females (both born in 2001) and persuaded them to engage in sexually explicit activity. He admitted communicating with a 45-year-old Pennsylvania man during the same time period and asking him to video tape himself performing sexually explicit acts with the two minor females, and to send him the video. The Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this year to producing online child pornography.

Loftin also admitted in court that in March 2010 and January 2011 he used a cell phone to take candid photos up the skirts of two minor females (both under the age of 7) at a preschool in San Diego County where he was working.

"While it is always heartbreaking to discover criminal activity involving sexual exploitation of innocent children, this case strengthens our resolve to track down those individuals who are involved in the underworld of child pornography," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "Child pornography memorializes the physical sexual abuse of a child. No child is capable of consenting to sexual activity—therefore all sexual depiction of children is abuse."

HSI special agents arrested Loftin at his El Cajon residence in April 2011 after receiving information from the HSI investigators in Pennsylvania that Loftin was chatting online with another suspected child predator. At the time of his arrest, Loftin worked at a local preschool and was advertising his babysitting services online. He was previously employed at the Cuyamaca College Child Development Center.

Loftin is facing additional felony charges for child exploitation in state court as part of a separate, but parallel investigation by the San Diego County Sheriff's Child Abuse Unit and HSI San Diego. In that case, several local victims of child molestation have been identified.

The investigations are part of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, which marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet.

As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. 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.

Through Project Safe Childhood, the Department of Justice is seeking to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.