Former Teacher Admits Possessing Child Pornography

BILLINGS — A former Judith Gap School teacher today admitted to possessing child pornography after Facebook submitted tips about the possible transmission of the material on its system to authorities, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Jayson Gayo, 27, of Harlowton, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography as charged in an indictment. Gayo faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. Judge Watters set sentencing for Dec. 15 and ordered Gayo remanded into custody pending further proceedings. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The government alleged in court documents and in court that in August 2020, Facebook submitted a series of Cybertips after flagging the possible transmission of child pornography on its system. The information indicated that the transmission of child pornography was from an account that was connected to the Judith Gap School and to Gayo’s residence in Judith Gap. Gayo was a teacher at Judith Gap School. There was no indication that the images or Gayo’s conduct involved students at the school. Investigators executed a search warrant of Gayo’s residence, collected multiple electronic media items and determined that the items contained more than 400 images and videos of child pornography. A search warrant issued to Facebook for Gayo’s account found additional evidence of uploads of child pornography from that account.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno B. Baucus is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.

This case was initiated under the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative, which was launched in 2006 to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. Through a network of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, Project Safe Childhood attempts to protect children by investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation. It is implemented through partnerships including the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The ICAC Task Force Program was created to assist state and local law enforcement agencies by enhancing their investigative response to technology facilitated crimes against children.

Courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana

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