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Child Exploitation
05/10/2010

ICE arrests Phoenix teacher in child pornography investigation

PHOENIX - A fifth-grade Phoenix teacher has been arrested U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on federal criminal charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Tyler A. Townley, 30, who teaches at Sun Canyon Elementary School, was taken into custody May 6 after ICE special agents performed a search warrant at his residence and found numerous images and video files of children engaging in sexually explicit conduct on his computer and additional flash drives. The search was based on information obtained in an ongoing investigation into Web sites advertising child pornography by the ICE Cyber Crimes Center Child Exploitation Section. The investigation led ICE agents to Townley's e-mail and IP address, and eventually to his home in Phoenix.

"These allegations are especially disturbing given the position of trust the defendant has occupied," said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. "We appreciate the ongoing efforts of ICE to use its investigative resources to target predators and all those whose actions contribute to the sexual exploitation of children."

"Identifying people who violate their positions of public trust by contributing to the exploitation of children is a top priority for ICE," said Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of ICE Investigations in Arizona. "With this arrest, we are sending a message to consumers of child pornography that they won't be able to hide behind the Internet."

If convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography, Townley faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $500,000.

The investigation is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators. ICE 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.