New York City Public School Teacher Charged with Producing, Receiving, and Possessing Child Pornography
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that JON CRUZ, a teacher and debate coach at the Bronx High School for Science, was arrested today on charges relating to producing, receiving, and possessing child pornography.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Whenever child pornography charges are brought, it is among the most difficult and disturbing situations law enforcement must face, particularly as it relates to the victims. What makes this case even more disturbing than the charges themselves is, as alleged, Jon Cruz was involved in child pornography while he was working with children every day through his job as a teacher and debate coach. Now the justice process must take over.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez said: “It takes a special depravity to produce child pornography. This type of insidious behavior must stop. And others who think they can hide in the Deep Web—or are beyond the reach of law enforcement—should think again. Our youth deserve our unwavering commitment to their security, particularly from a coach and teacher at their school.”
According to the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
From July 2014 through December 2014, JON CRUZ engaged in multiple chats over a mobile communication application with minor victims from different states. In those chats, CRUZ, who was aware of the ages of the victims, offered to pay the victims to take nude photographs of themselves and send the photographs to CRUZ. In at least one case, CRUZ paid a fifteen-year-old male over $500 to take sexually explicit photographs of himself and to send the photographs to CRUZ.
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CRUZ, 32, was arrested this morning in New York, NY. He is charged with one count of production of child pornography, one count of receiving child pornography, and one count of possessing child pornography. For production of child pornography, CRUZ faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. For his receipt of child pornography, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. For his possession of child pornography, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
CRUZ is a teacher at the Bronx High School for Science, where he has been employed since 2006. CRUZ is also the head coach of the Bronx Science Speech and Debate Team. Persons with information about children with whom CRUZ may have had inappropriate sexual contact, or from whom he may have solicited sexually explicit images or videos, are urged to contact the FBI hotline established for this investigation at (212) 384-2166 or FBI-BHS@ic.fbi.gov.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the New York and New Mexico offices of the FBI in this matter. He also thanked the New York State Police and the Bernalillo, New Mexico County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance with this investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Shawn Crowley is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.