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Child Exploitation

Local 8th grade teacher pleads guilty to multiple child pornography counts

Bell Middle School teacher faces up to 20 years in prison for each count

SAN DIEGO — A local eighth grade science teacher pleaded guilty Thursday to a five-count indictment charging him with receiving and possessing child pornography, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Timothy James Hensley, 38, of San Diego, appeared in court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal. Hensley, who will be sentenced Aug. 12, faces up to 20 years in prison for each count and a maximum fine of $250,000. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

As part of his guilty plea, Hensley admitted receiving images showing the sexual exploitation of a female approximately 10 years old. He also admitted possessing a computer and disks containing images that depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Several of the images were of prepubescent minors.

Hensley was arrested in January after HSI special agents executed a search warrant at his North Park apartment where they discovered loose digital media containing images of child pornography. He was taken into custody while sitting inside his vehicle at the San Diego Zoo's parking lot.

This case is being conducted as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including Internet child pornographers. As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free tip line 1-866-347-2423 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

In the first six months of fiscal year 2013, HSI child sexual exploitation investigations nationwide resulted in the arrest of more than 960 suspects and the rescue of more than 330 juvenile victims. Nineteen of the suspects were arrested in San Diego and Imperial counties.