A teacher from Cebu City who was previously accused of molesting a Filipino teenager was arrested in U.S. state of New Mexico early last week for allegedly possessing child pornography.
Rodymar Pedrano Lelis, 29, allegedly accessed the pornographic videos from an Albuquerque hotel room sometime in September, a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
After accessing these videos, Lelis allegedly sent them to someone through Facebook Messenger. Lelis started teaching elementary school students a few weeks later at the La Tierra Montessori School of the Arts and Sciences (LTMAS) in the nearby city of Española, local television station KOB 4 reported.
A two-month investigation was conducted by the authorities leading to his arrest in Española on Nov. 5. His hearing started three days later. If convicted of the charges, Lelis stands to be imprisoned for up to 20 years in federal prison.
Meanwhile, LTMAS send a statement to parents saying that it doesn’t have “any evidence of or allegations that any students at LTMAS or anywhere else in the Espanola Valley are involved in this investigation, nor are there any allegations of any physical involvement between Mr. Lelis and any children in the federal charges.”
Lelis is in New Mexico legally on a J-1 non-immigrant visa, which is issued by the U.S. to visitors who participate in programs that promote cultural exchange. Prior to moving in the U.S., Lelis was accused of molesting a 14-year-old athlete in the 2018 Palarong Pambansa (National Competition) which was held in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Lelis allegedly groped the teenage boy while both of them were inside a restroom and offered to pay him in exchange for sex. Lelis was arrested by the police, and parents of the victim pressed charges. Shortly after his arrest, however, Lelis was freed on bail.
The suspect worked as a special education teacher at the Zapatera Integrated School in Cebu City, Cebu Daily News reported.
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