Former DC teacher and FBI most-wanted child porn suspect ordered - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Former DC teacher and FBI most-wanted child porn suspect ordered held without bond

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Courtroom sketch by William Hennessy Courtroom sketch by William Hennessy
Courtroom sketch by William Hennessy Courtroom sketch by William Hennessy
Eric Justin Toth Eric Justin Toth
WASHINGTON -

Eric Justin Toth, the former private school teacher accused to making child porn, will remain behind bars for the time being. Toth appeared before a federal magistrate judge in D.C., Tuesday afternoon.

Until 2008, Toth had been a third grade teacher at the prestigious Beauvoir Elementary School, part of the National Cathedral Episcopal school complex in Washington, D.C. According to court documents and federal law enforcement officials, Toth sometimes had a video camera at the school.

One day in June of 2008, a fellow staff member at the school discovered a media card in Toth's classroom. According to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald Machen, Jr., some of the contents of the card were benign.

"Pictures of kids smiling, playing in the classroom," Machen told a news conference. "But it also contained images that would be any parent's worst nightmare: pornographic images of a small boy, as well as a video of an adult male fondling that young boy."

According to court documents, the child appeared to be sleeping at the time of the abuse, apparently at his own home in Maryland, a house to which Toth had access, say prosecutors.

Toth was fired immediately, and police were called later. But, before he could be questioned, Toth disappeared -- for five years.

In 2012, U.S. Navy Seals killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden in a daring raid in Pakistan. Bin Laden's death created a vacancy in the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list. Toth was added to the list, and his picture was circulated widely.

A few days ago, federal authorities got a call from a tipster who apparently furnished the name Toth was using while living in a small town in the Central American country of Nicaragua.

State Department agents stationed in Nicaragua swung into action.

"Through analysis of his travel documents and some financial information, we were able to pinpoint his whereabouts, which gave the Nicaraguan authorities enough information to affect the arrest," explained Valerie Parlave, a manager at the FBI's Washington Field Office.

Toth, in U.S. District Court, when asked to swear to tell the truth, answered rather oddly, "Yes, I shall," he said. Toth, who is quite tall, appeared in a blue prison jump suit with about a two-day growth of beard. He listened intently during the hearing, which lasted about 15 minutes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassidy Pinegar asked that Toth be held without bond.

His public defender, Michelle Peterson, did not object to that, and asked for extra time (before the next hearing) to ascertain whether "the parties can see if a global resolution can be reached." (i.e., a plea agreement).

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay agreed, and advised the former teacher he has the right to remain silent, noting that one of the charges against him requires a 15-year minimum prison sentence.

The case against Toth appears to be strong. In fact, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday, Toth recorded another child porn video in a classroom at the Beauvoir School. That video purportedly shows Toth pulling down the shorts and underwear of a male child.

Why would the government want a plea deal? Possibly to spare the children and their parents from the ordeal of court testimony.

The next status hearing in the case is scheduled for May 23 at 1:45 p.m.


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