El Monte Man Who Allegedly Molested Minors and Is Charged Federally with Production and Possession of Child Pornography Attempted to Work for Law Enforcement
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 12, 2009|
LOS ANGELES—An El Monte man who was arrested for molesting a minor, has been charged federally with the possession and production of illegal pornographic images of his victim. The SAFE Team (Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement), which includes investigators with multiple state, local and federal agencies, is releasing the man’s photograph in order to locate additional victims that may not yet have been identified.
This investigation was initiated when investigators with the California Highway Patrol uncovered alleged criminal activity during a preliminary employment background check. Written responses made during the applicant process led to a CHP investigation of Christian Hernandez, 29, for the alleged molestation of a five year-old child. According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Hernandez applied to be an officer with the California Highway Patrol in October 2008. Hernandez admitted on an employment questionnaire that he had accessed illegal pornography on the Internet, and had viewed illicit photos of a minor as recently as one-month prior to applying for employment, according to the complaint.
The CHP, who provides a full time officer on the SAFE Team, immediately initiated an investigation and obtained consent to search the El Monte home where Hernandez had been residing. Investigators found child pornography on a computer used by Hernandez, including sexually explicit photos of a girl, approximately five years old, in sexual positions with a man identified as Hernandez, according to the complaint. The photos appeared to have been taken in the bedroom of the home in which Hernandez currently resides.
On June 5, 2009, Hernandez was booked into the Los Angeles County Jail for a single count of a lewd act with a minor under the age of fourteen, in violation of California Penal Code, Section 288(a). He was released on bail two days later. After further investigation by the SAFE Team and CHP, Hernandez was charged in the criminal complaint alleging he possessed and manufactured child pornography. He was arrested on the federal charges on June 9th. Hernandez had an appearance before a U.S. Magistrate yesterday and was denied bail. He is currently being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center. Based on victim interviews, SAFE Team investigators have reason to believe that Hernandez may have sexually abused other minors and urges victims to contact law enforcement. For this purpose, a photograph of Hernandez is being released publicly.
Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court on June 15th. If convicted on the federal charges, Hernandez faces a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison. The minimum mandatory sentence for the production count is fifteen years in prison. If convicted, Hernandez is also subject to additional terms imposed by the court, including registration as a sex offender. Hernandez also faces prosecution on the state charges.
The investigation of Hernandez was conducted by the CHP and the FBI’s SAFE Team in Los Angeles (Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement), one of many such groups nationwide, which focuses on the sexual exploitation of minors. The SAFE Team is comprised of agents, officers and prosecutors from the following agencies: FBI, CHP, California Department of Justice-Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence, LAPD, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, United States Postal Inspection Service, The Department of Child and Family Services, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office.