Physics teacher at Catholic high school in San Pedro is arrested in child porn case

A physics teacher at a San Pedro Catholic high school was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing child pornography, police said.

Daniel O’Connell, 32, was taken into custody during a search of his Rancho Palos Verdes home, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. O’Connell has been a part-time teacher at Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro.

Detectives from the LAPD’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit began investigating O’Connell after they were tipped off that he was allegedly engaged in inappropriate contact with minors, police said. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a nonprofit organization, told investigators that O’Connell met the minors on a mathematics tutoring website, according to police.

According to the Mary Star of the Sea website, O’Connell taught physics and advanced placement physics. He also tutored students after school.

He worked at the school for 3½ years, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which oversees operations for the high school.

In a letter sent to students and parents, the school’s principal, Rita Dever, said the archdiocese learned about the police investigation last week and is cooperating with investigators.

“At this time, the police have indicated that Mr. O’Connell’s alleged activities do not involve any students at Mary Star of the Sea High School nor did they take place on the Mary Star campus,” she said.

O’Connell had passed a background check and had the required certifications, she said.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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