Written by Jaime L. Tomeo Wednesday, 17 June 2009 16:20
An Island Trees Memorial Middle School teacher pleaded not guilty on June 12 to federal charges of downloading videos of child pornography.
According to U.S. District Court documents, between Oct. 1, 2008 and June 11, 2009, Richard Hartig, 42, “intentionally received visual depictions…involving the use of one or more minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”
Undercover FBI officials discovered Hartig in an Internet chat room for child pornography. On Oct. 1, 2008, Hartig allegedly responded to an undercover agent that he was “into children ages 5 to 12 years.” The agent went to Hartig’s shared folders on the Internet and observed “numerous files with names that appeared to be referencing child pornography available for download.”
A subpoena was issued for Hartig’s computer IP address and on June 11, Suffolk County Police Department personnel searched his Lindenhurst basement apartment, seizing a laptop, a computer and an external hard drive. Court documents reveal that Hartig admitted to FBI officials “he had child pornographic files, pictures and videos…stored on an external hard drive attached to a desktop computer.” Court documents also stated Hartig further admitted that he “first realized he was attracted to children at 14 years old.”
He is currently being held on a permanent order of detention.
Hartig has been a science teacher at ITMMS for the last 15 years.
When asked about Hartig’s employment status at the middle school, Superintendent Jim Parla replied, “this is currently an ongoing investigation.”
A ConnectEd phone message was sent out to district parents and employees on June 13 stating that administration was advised by counsel not to contact the media.
According to Jane Briggs of the NY State Education Department, the Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability (OSPRA) investigates allegations concerning the moral character of individuals who hold or who are applicants for New York State teaching certificates, or about illegal practice of the profession by an uncertified person.
“Under the law, school district superintendents must file a report with the department upon knowledge that a certificate holder has been convicted of a crime or has committed an act that raises a reasonable question about the individual’s moral character,” she stated.
Complaints received by the department will be reviewed pursuant to Part 83 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education to determine the appropriate action. The commissioner may impose a penalty of revocation of certificate, suspension of certificate, limitation of the scope of teaching certificate, fine or requirement of pursuing a course of continuing education or training.