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May 18, 2023Santa Ana, CA, United StatesChild Exploitation

Former California teacher pleads guilty to possessing child sexual abuse material after HSI investigation

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A former Southern California elementary school teacher and high school wrestling coach pleaded guilty May 15 to possessing child sexual abuse material, including at least one video portraying masochistic sexual conduct involving a child.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles investigated the case.

“This individual egregiously violated a trust given to those that educate our children,” said HSI Los Angeles acting Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang. “With little regard for the lifetime impact on victims of child abuse, he has made it clear he belongs behind bars where he can no longer victimize children.”

Richard O’Connor, 45, of Anaheim, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.

O’Connor was formerly employed as a fourth-grade teacher at Crescent Elementary School in Anaheim, California, and volunteered as a boys’ wrestling coach at Canyon High School, also located in Anaheim. He is not accused of victimizing students.

According to his plea agreement, in October 2022, law enforcement served a federal search warrant on Apple Inc. for the contents of O’Connor’s Apple iCloud account. A forensic review of O’Connor’s iCloud account identified at least 81 videos and 158 images of child sexual abuse material. O’Connor admitted in his plea agreement that several of the videos and images in his iCloud account depicted infants or toddlers as well as violent, sadistic and masochistic conduct.

O’Connor further admitted in his plea agreement that he knew that at least three of the videos he possessed depicted minors engaged in sexual conduct. He also admitted to possessing at least one video that portrayed a child engaged in sadistic or masochistic conduct, particularly bondage.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter scheduled sentencing for Dec. 18, at which time O’Connor will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and will be required to register as a sex offender.

Federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend to the court that O’Connor be sentenced to a term of imprisonment no higher than five years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa S. Rabbani of the Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case.