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Child Exploitation

Private Orange County high school teacher arrested for child sex crimes

Male instructor suspected of sending illicit photos, text messages to female student

Dominic Witter
Dominic Witter
SANTA ANA, Calif. — An English teacher at a private high school in Irvine was arrested Thursday night on suspicion of allegedly sending sexually explicit photos and text messages to a female student at the school.

Dominic Witter, 25, of Laguna Niguel, was taken into custody when he arrived at a pizza restaurant in Laguna Hills expecting to meet the female victim. Instead, the instructor and coach at Crean Lutheran High School was detained by investigators from the Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force (OCCETF), including special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Orange County Sheriff's deputies (OCSD) and detectives from the Irvine Police Department.

Witter was arrested on probable cause for allegedly sending the underage student sexually explicit text messages and nude photos of himself. In those messages, Witter allegedly asked the victim to send him explicit pictures of her. The matter is being referred to the Orange County District Attorney's Office for prosecution. It is expected Witter will be arraigned in Orange County Superior Court early next week.

"We entrust teachers to serve as role models for our children and safeguard their welfare. When that trust is violated, there will be zero tolerance," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. "Those who exploit their access to young people to gratify their own perverse sexual desires are on notice that there will be serious consequences for those actions."

In addition to teaching English, Witter also serves as a coach for the school's girls' track and boys' soccer teams. Investigators have notified the school about the arrest.

"I am proud of the outstanding work the Orange County Sheriff's Department did on this case and our investigators will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our children from those who would sexually exploit them," said Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.

The Task Force received substantial assistance with the case from the Irvine Police Department.

"We appreciate the great work the OCCETF has done on this case," said Irvine Police Chief David Maggard. "We are proud to support their investigation into this disturbing crime."

The OCCETF's investigation is ongoing and there is concern Witter may have other victims. Investigators are asking anyone with information that may be relevant to the case to contact HSI's toll-free 24-hour tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

Since its inception a year ago, the OCCETF has identified and arrested more than two dozen suspects. The task force is a collaborative law enforcement effort focusing on information sharing and investigations related to the arrest and prosecution of child pornographers; child sex tourists and facilitators; human smugglers and traffickers of minors; criminal alien sex offenders; and foreign nationals deported for child sex offenses who return to the Unites States illegally. In addition to HSI and the OCSD, current Task Force members include the Huntington Beach Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.