FRESNO, Calif. — Former Hanford High School teacher and football coach Eric Rodriguez, 36, was sentenced in federal court Monday to eight years and one month in prison followed by 15 years of supervised release for receiving child pornography.
The case is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, with assistance from the investigations unit of the Kings County District Attorney's Office.
According to court documents, Rodriguez received approximately 30 separate videos depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The videos portrayed sadism, masochism and other images of violence. Rodriguez received the child pornography on his computer via the Internet, and many of the victims depicted were prepubescent minors.
"This sentence should serve as a stern warning to anyone who possesses and distributes child pornography and believes the anonymity of the Internet will shield them from detection," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of HSI Fresno. "This case is particularly disturbing in light of the defendant's position as a teacher and coach. "HSI will continue to work closely with our local law enforcement partners to investigate those who sexually exploit our young people and ensure that these predators feel the full weight of the law."
The case is also the result of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice effort launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may also be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or its online resource for reporting child sexual exploitation.
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.