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Child Exploitation

Tulare high school band instructor indicted on child pornography charges

FRESNO, Calif.- A band instructor at a Fresno-area high school has been charged with one count each of receiving and possessing child pornography following an investigation by the agencies on the Fresno Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Raymond Ferenci, 52, who works at Western High School in Tulare, Calif., was indicted by a grand here jury yesterday. The indictment alleges that, between May 2006 and July 2008, Ferenci used a computer in his possession to receive the images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

According to court documents, the suspicions about Ferenci originally arose after he allegedly sent inappropriate text messages to several female students at the high school. While investigating those allegations, local authorities uncovered evidence of possible child pornography and alerted the Task Force. During a subsequent interview with task force investigators, Ferenci admitted using a peer-to-peer software program to search for images of child pornography.

Ferenci was arrested Nov. 6 at his Visalia, Calif. home. He has since been released on electronic monitoring pending trial. If convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography, Ferenci faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

In addition to ICE, the other agencies prominently involved in the case include the Tulare Police Department and the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.

ICE's participation in the investigation is part of the agency's initiative known as Operation Predator, an ongoing enforcement effort targeting those who sexually exploit children. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,000 individuals nationwide. The public is encouraged to report suspected child predators and suspicious activity by contacting ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE; and NCMEC, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.