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Child Exploitation

Former Idaho high school teacher and tennis coach pleads guilty to child pornography charges stemming from ICE probe

BOISE, Idaho - A former marketing teacher and tennis coach at Borah High School in Boise, Idaho, pleaded guilty in federal court today to possessing child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that revealed sexually explicit images of underage boys on two school district computers the defendant kept at his home.

In September 2007, ICE agents searched the Boise home of Ronald Keith Neil, 41, and seized two computers. When agents entered the house, one of the computers was in the process of downloading a pornographic video of teenage males. Neil also traded pornographic images of children through file-sharing software.

A forensic analysis of Neil's computer revealed it contained videos and still images of young boys, some of them prepubescent, engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Further analysis by the National Center Missing and Exploited Children confirmed that some of the images were known victims of child pornography living throughout the United States and in Russia.

Neil was placed on administrative leave by the Boise School District September 5, 2007. He resigned his teaching position three months later.

"Some predators mistakenly believe the anonymity of cyberspace shields them from scrutiny. In fact, their use of computers and the Internet have given us new tools in our enforcement efforts to protect children," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations that oversees Idaho. "ICE remains committed to investigating this type of on-line activity to prevent the exploitation of children."

ICE agents learned of Neil's illegal activity after a separate ICE investigation revealed he had been using his credit card and e-mail address since 2002 to access child pornography websites. This investigation, dubbed “Operation Falcon," focused on a company that provided billing services for 50 different child pornography websites. "Operation Falcon” has resulted in more than 160 arrests in the United States and more than 1,000 arrests worldwide.

Sentencing for Neil is scheduled for May 14, 2008, at the federal courthouse in Boise. He faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000.