Thursday, October 29, 2009

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Austin County Grand Jury Indicts Former Elementary School Teacher on Child Pornography Charges

HOUSTON – An Austin County grand jury has indicted former elementary school teacher Stephen Wayne Sudduth, 34, of Sealy, on 30 counts of possession of child pornography and 10 counts of promotion of child pornography. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit investigators found more than 57,000 images and 1,000 videos during a forensic examination of Sudduth’s computers and external media devices.

“An elementary school educator possessing thousands of sexually explicit images and video of children frightens parents around the state,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The indictment reflects the Cyber Crime Unit’s continued focus to capture the worst of the worst cyber criminals. Investigators will continue working to stop sexual predators from exploiting children online.”

Media links

Stephen Sudduth

Video of Stephen Sudduth's arrest
40-count indictment against Stephen Sudduth
Attorney General's search warrant affidavit

The Cyber Crimes Unit began investigating Sudduth after a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicated Sudduth possessed child pornography. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators arrested Sudduth after today’s felony indictments. In July, Sudduth resigned from a Hays Consolidated Independent School District teaching job he was set to begin. Sudduth is prohibited from using the Internet and being near children until trial. Assistant Attorney General Brenda Cantu is prosecuting the case.

Before he transferred to Hays Consolidated ISD, Sudduth was an elementary school teacher with the Katy Independent School District. Parents who have questions or relevant information about this case may contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Criminal Investigations Division at (800) 252-8011.

Under Texas law, possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Promotion of child pornography is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting child predators. Since 2003, the Cyber Crimes Unit has arrested 112 online predators seeking to assault young Texans. In addition to arrest roundups, Abbott also launched a series of town hall meetings statewide to educate parents and teenagers about the kind of criminal activity that goes on in connection with Internet diaries, chat rooms and social networking sites.

For more information, contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov