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Child Exploitation
11/02/2011

Former Vermont high school music teacher sentenced for child porn

RUTLAND, Vt. – A former conductor of the Vermont Windham Orchestra, who also served as a part-time music teacher at Brattleboro High School, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in federal prison for possession of child pornography. These charges were the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

David B. Runnion, 52, of Brattleboro, Vt., pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography during a court appearance before Chief U.S. District Judge Christina C. Reiss in Rutland, Vt. Runnion was also sentenced to eight years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

"This case serves as yet another example of our commitment to work with prosecutors and our partners in law enforcement, specifically the Brattleboro and Keene, New Hampshire Police Departments, to identify, arrest and bring to justice those who not only prey on our children but who also violate public trust," stated Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI for New England. "This case shows there is no anonymity on the Internet."

According to court records, Runnion communicated via email at various times in 2008 and 2009 with a 14-year-old female who lived in northern New Hampshire. Runnion and the juvenile met on Craigslist and they corresponded from their computers at their respective homes in Vermont and New Hampshire. Throughout the course of their communications, on multiple occasions the juvenile sent Runnion sexually explicit photographs of herself. Investigators executed a search warrant, and they discovered photographs and emails in Runnion's email account, along with some of the images which were saved on his laptop computer.

Runnion was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 16, 2010, in the district of Vermont. He faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and a fine up to $250,000.

In sentencing Runnion, Judge Reiss noted, among other things, that the 30-month sentence would allow him to undergo needed sex offender treatment with the Bureau of Prisons. Judge Reiss also cited the seriousness of Runnion's offense in imposing the sentence.

HSI was assisted in this investigation by the Brattleboro, Vt. Police Department along with officers from the Keene, N.H. Police Department. The Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) also provided assistance, according to Tristram Coffin, U.S. attorney for the district of Vt. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan prosecuted the case.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.