Friday, 21 August 2009 00:00
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey announced that a joint investigation performed by their offices and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has led to the arrest of a former Hicksville teacher who authorities say possessed dozens of images of child pornography on a computer in his East Meadow home.
John Spring, 57, was arrested by detectives with the Nassau County Police Department’s Crimes Against Property Squad and DHS agents on Aug. 6 and is charged with 12 counts of possession of a sexual performance by a child. If convicted, Spring faces up to four years in prison.
Rice said that the investigation into Spring began in August 2007 when a federal agent at the Eisenhower Park Aquatic Center noticed Spring standing on the pool deck acting suspiciously. According to the DA, Spring was not wearing swimming clothes, was staring at young males and following them into the locker room. This heightened the suspicions of the federal agent, who confirmed with the pool’s lifeguards that the defendant often acted in this manner.
In November 2007, agents with the DHS/Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations approached Spring at his East Meadow home. At that time, Rice said, Spring told the agents of his attraction to young teenage males, and indicated that his home computer might contain illegal images of a graphic sexual nature; when seized and forensically examined by law enforcement, 39 sexually explicit images of underage boys were allegedly discovered. The images on Spring’s personal computer were then reviewed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to determine if any of the images were of children who have previously been identified. After yielding no positive identifications, the case was presented to local authorities in early 2009.
Spring began working at Trinity Lutheran School in Hicksville in 1974. He was a seventh and eighth-grade science teacher until resigning in December 2007 after DHS informed the school’s principal of the investigation and computer search.
“Protecting our children from sexual predators like Mr. Spring is my office’s highest priority,” Rice said. “I must commend the work of the Nassau County Police Crimes Against Property Squad who made the arrest and the federal agent whose gut instincts and subsequent investigation led to it. They have done our community a great service.”
Commissioner Mulvey said, “It is always disturbing whenever innocent children fall prey to criminal behavior, but it is also encouraging when the law enforcement community can coordinate its efforts so we can apprehend those individuals responsible for these egregious acts. I commend the dedication and commitment of the investigators in this case and I’m confident that our District Attorney will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to Peter J. Smith, special agent-in-charge of New York’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), “The exploitation of children is a despicable crime. The arrest of Mr. Spring is particularly troubling because of his position of trust with young people. This arrest underscores ICE’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to search out predators who sexually exploit innocent children.”
Handling the case for the DA’s office is Assistant District Attorney Guido Gabriele of the Economic Crimes Bureau. Spring is being represented by Bruce Barkett, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.