Special education aide arrested in alleged Riverside child porn ring

A foster care parent and special education teacher's aide among those arrested in child porn bust

A special education teacher’s assistant and foster care provider in Riverside County was part of a child pornography ring that spanned three counties in Southern California, prosecutors said Tuesday.

John David Yoder, 43, of Desert Hot Springs, who until recently worked at Desert Hot Springs High School, is charged with oral copulation on a child under 14, human trafficking of a victim under 18, conspiracy, lewd acts on a child under 14 and aiding another in avoiding arrest.

Yoder was arrested Jan. 30 by a task force focused on sex crimes against children; his arrest came within days of the arrests of two of his accomplices, Riverside County prosecutors said.

Yoder was suspended from the Palm Springs Unified School District without pay and the district is cooperating with authorities, the district said in a statement. Authorities say he was part of a “significant ring of human traffickers and child pornographers” who targeted young boys and children from local skate parks and other venues where kids hang out.

In a statement, prosecutors said Yoder and a second man, William Clyde Thompson, 54, lured boys under the guise of wanting them to model, then sexually assaulted them.

Thompson, a Las Vegas resident, was arrested by a federal fugitive task force in Needles, Calif., under the alias Tony Bailor. Authorities say he also used the name Jason Brock.

Thompson was charged Tuesday with a variety of sex crimes against children, some 10 or younger.  He faces a sentencing enhancement for multiple victims.

Officials said a search of Thompson’s cellphone pointed toward Yoder, who was arrested soon after Thompson, and a third man – Erick Alan Monsivais, 29, of Los Angeles. Monsivais was arrested Feb. 2 and is charged with sex crimes against children and human trafficking. 

According to Robert Goetsch, special agent in charge of investigations for the Department of Homeland Security in Los Angeles, Thompson asked police to retrieve three phone numbers from his cellphone after he was taken into custody. Two of those phone numbers belonged to Monsivais and Yoder.

Law enforcement officials believe more people may be involved in the alleged child porn ring, Goetsch told The Times, and are working to identify them now.

Goetsch says police believe that there are at least several victims, some of whom police have been able to identify. Investigators have seized electronic equipment from the suspects, and computer forensic experts will be examining them as part of the investigation, he said.

"In the many years I've personally been involved with these types of investigations, this has to be very near the top as far as egregious violators," Goetsch told The Times on Thursday. "Often, we see one guy doing stuff on his own, trading or working with anonymous people around the world. Here you have...people who knew each other and worked with each other, collaborated to exploit and hurt these children."

Monsivais and Yoder have pleaded not guilty and are due back in court Thursday. Thompson has yet to be arraigned and remains in federal custody in Nevada pending his extradition.

All three suspects have been "very cooperative," with authorities, Goetsch said.

Prosecutors say that if they are convicted, Yoder, Thompson and Monsivais face 35 years, 85 years, and 167 years in prison, respectively.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

7:43 p.m.: This story has been updated to include comments and details from Robert Goetsch of the Department of Homeland Security investigations unit.

This story was originally published at 6:51 p.m.

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