Elementary school teacher arrested for child pornography

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Tyler A. Townley, 30, faces child pornography charges. By Alicia Barron Tyler A. Townley, 30, faces child pornography charges. By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX – A 5th-grade teacher at a Phoenix school was arrested for allegedly receiving child pornography.

Tyler A. Townley, 30, who works at Sun Canyon Elementary School, was taken into custody on Thursday. He was formally charged Friday and made his initial court appearance.

U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke says, “These allegations are especially disturbing given the position of trust the defendant has occupied.”

Officials from Sun Canyon Elementary School have been silent on the issue, and students' parents did not even know about the arrest until 3TV started asking about it.

Christina Gomez, whose son has Townley for social studies, said the school's reaction was inexcusable.

"Something should've been sent out immediately to let parents know what's going on," she said. "There's no question -- it's their obligation."

Townley was arrested by ICE Special Agents who served a search warrant at his home. They reportedly found numerous images and video files on his computer and flash drives of children engaging in sexually-explicit conduct.

ICE Special Agent in Charge in Arizona Matthew Allen says, “Identifying people who violate their positions of public trust by contributing to the exploitation of children is a top priority for ICE.”

Probable cause for the search was gained through information in an ongoing investigation into websites that advertise child pornography.

If convicted, Townley faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars.

Suspected child sexual exploitation may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by calling 1-800-843-5678 or go to Cyber Tip Line.