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Child Exploitation

Former Pasadena high school teacher pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

LOS ANGELES - A former teacher at Mayfield High School in Pasadena, Calif., pleaded guilty today to a federal charge of possession of child pornography for having hundreds of images on his home computer.

David Wakefield Hassler, 62, of South Pasadena, pleaded guilty to the felony offense in United States District Court in Los Angeles. The charge stems from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As a result of his guilty plea, Hassler could be sentenced to as much as 10 years in federal prison.

The child pornography was found on Hassler's computer last year when ICE agents executed a search warrant at his residence. The search was conducted after investigators discovered that Hassler has subscribed to two commercial websites that offered child pornography to subscribers.

According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Hassler knew that the images depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Hassler, who left Mayfield High School about one year ago, is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer on January 26, 2009.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which received assistance from the Pasadena Police Department. ICE's involvement in the investigation is part of the agency's initiative known as Operation Predator, an ongoing enforcement effort targeting those who prey upon and sexually exploit our nation's children - including Internet pornographers, international sex tourists, and foreign national sexual predators. Since the initiative's launch five years ago, ICE special agents have arrested more than 11,000 individuals nationwide.

ICE encourages the reporting of suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. 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 & Exploited Children, an ICE partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.