Richard D. Hendricks, formerly employed as a computer teacher at East Hampton Middle School, pleaded guilty on Thursday before Senior United States District Judge Ellen Breen Burns in New Haven to one count of receipt of child pornography.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with ICE HSI and our other investigative partners, are committed to protecting children, the most vulnerable segment of our population, from harm,” U.S. Attorney David B. Fein said in a press release. “A teacher should share this same commitment. The type of illegal activity this defendant engaged in represents an extreme violation of trust and a heinous crime that merits the serious attention of our office.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, an investigation by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) revealed that Hendricks purchased Internet access to live sex shows involving minors from approximately October 2009 to April 2010. The shows originated in the Philippines.
On June 6, 2011, ICE HSI agents seized two laptop computers, one desktop computer and two external hard drives from Hendricks’ home in Ashford. Subsequent forensic evaluation revealed that Hendricks used his computer to receive more than 600 images and 50 movie files of child pornography, including images of children under the age of 12, and images portraying sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.
Investigators also discovered numerous images and videos of Hendricks' students at East Hampton Middle School. While many of the pictures were related to Hendricks’ duties as yearbook advisor, investigators discovered that Hendricks secretly took voyeuristic photos and videos of female students in his classroom. He also manipulated some of these images to enhance their visibility, and used a software program to attempt to visualize the private areas of clothed girls.
During the course of the investigation, parental notification was made when investigators identified children who Hendricks secretly photographed or video recorded. With parental consent, agents conducted dozens of forensic interviews of the children.
Judge Burns has scheduled sentencing for May 8, 2012, at which time Hendricks faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Hendricks, 31, has been detained since his arrest on June 9, 2011.
This matter has been investigated by ICE Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of the Connecticut State Police and the East Hampton Police Department.
This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative and the District of Connecticut’s “Operation Constant Vigilance,” which are aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com.