School district: Students not victimized by sub in child porn case

After a forensic examination of the teacher's computer After a forensic examination of the teacher's computer and other media, Francesco Santodonato, 39, was charged with two counts of possession of a sexual performance of a child and three counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child. Photo Credit: SCPD

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The South Huntington school district said police investigating child pornography charges against one of the district's substitute teachers have indicated none of its students was victimized.

The district addressed the charges against substitute gym teacher, Francesco Santodonato, 39, of West Babylon, in a statement posted on its website, saying it was working with police "to help protect our children."

Santodonato was arraigned Friday at First District Court in Islip on two counts of possession of a sexual performance of a child and three counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child. Judge G. Ann Spelman ordered him remanded on $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash bail.

Santodonato, who was arrested Thursday at his home, is due back in court on Wednesday.

"The police have told us that at this point there is no indication that any of our students are in any way related to the charges that resulted in this arrest," the school district said in the statement posted Thursday. "However, the safety and security of our students is paramount and the physical education substitute in question has had no official contact with South Huntington children once we were made aware of the investigation."

The district said it is cooperating in the investigation and "will continue to monitor proceedings and assist the authorities" any way possible.

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Police said the charges against Santodonato relate to pictures and videos of child pornography he had on his home computer and included a forensic examination of the computer and other media.

"We got information that he was downloading and accessing a known child porn website. That's how the investigation started," said Det. Sgt. Daniel Molloy, who leads Suffolk's Computer Crime Section.

The investigation did not reveal evidence of physical contact between the teacher and his students, police said. "The parents we have spoken to are in shock," Molloy said.

The police are talking to the parents of 10- and 11-year old girls who attend the Maplewood Intermediate School -- the focus of the investigation -- to ask them: "Did Mr. S. ever make you feel uncomfortable?" Molloy said.

"We believe he may have been trying to contact . . . girls through chat rooms," he said.

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