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Child Exploitation

Former high school teacher sentenced for possession of child pornography

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A former Columbus-area high school teacher was sentenced Wednesday to 36 months in prison for possessing child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Matthew R. Fisher, 30, of Pickerington, Ohio, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for possessing more than 600 images of child pornography. Fisher formerly taught at Reynoldsburg High School and coached the district's eighth-grade girls' basketball team.

U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart, Southern District of Ohio; Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Ohio and Michigan; and Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost.

"Child pornography is the permanent record of the sexual exploitation and abuse of a child and it must be stopped," said Special Agent in Charge Moskowitz. "We will continue to aggressively target those engaged in this activity, especially those in positions of influence and trust with ready access to young people as is the case with Mr. Fisher."

"Congress has repeatedly said that the possession of child pornography is a profound public safety issue because it creates a 'marketplace' for the production of more child pornography and thus the abuse and exploitation of still more children," said U.S. Attorney Stewart. "Even though there was no evidence that Fisher exploited any of the children he came in contact with, the fact that someone in a position of authority around young people possesses child pornography is cause for grave concern."

ICE HSI special agents received a lead from Italian law enforcement that they had identified a website that was making child pornography available for viewing and downloading. Fisher's Internet Protocol address was among those that had visited the website and appeared to download child pornography.

Agents and members of the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force executed a search warrant at Fisher's home on April 7, 2011.  They interviewed Fisher who admitted to downloading child pornography from the Internet. An initial forensic examination of his computers and digital media found more than 600 images of child pornography including numerous videos.

Fisher pleaded guilty in June to one count of possession of child pornography.

Fisher was also ordered to be under court supervision for ten years after he serves his time in prison. While under supervised release, Fisher must permit the installation of appropriate monitoring software, upon any computer that he owns, uses, or has access to that is connected to the Internet. He will also be required to register as a sex offender anywhere that he lives, works or goes to school.

U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the investigation by ICE HSI agents, and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hunter, who prosecuted the case.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE HSI 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 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.

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.