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South Bay School Teacher Accused Of Child Porn Hospitalized After Overdose

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Nathan Forsteel

Nathan Forsteel (San Jose Police Dept.)

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SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — An elementary school teacher arrested on child pornography charges Wednesday was taken to a hospital after apparently attempting suicide in his San Jose home Thursday afternoon, police said.

Police responded to the home of Nathan Forstell, 44, at 4:42 p.m. after receiving a report from a partner living there that he appeared to be suffering from a medication overdose, Officer Albert Morales said.

A police officer determined that Forstell had apparently attempted suicide, and he was taken to a hospital for treatment and for a mental health evaluation, Morales said.

He is expected to survive and will remain in the hospital on a 72-hour mental health hold.

Police notified federal authorities after finding about 1,000 pornographic images of children as young as 4 years old on Forstell’s computer, police said Thursday.

The cache of sexually explicit photos, including pre-pubescent children aged 4 to 9, was recovered from Forstell’s home computer prior to his arrest, police Sgt. Greg Lombardo said.

The minimum number of seized images of child pornography to trigger an investigation by the Assistant U.S. Attorney’s office is 1,000 and “we are at around 1,000 right now,” Lombardo said.

The images depicted “sexual acts that are very traumatizing” to children, said Lombardo, of the Police Department’s sexual assault unit that investigates child pornography.

Detectives learned about Forstell from a routine surveillance of Internet websites where users share sexual images of children and then identified him from his computer’s IP address, Lombardo said.

There are so many such image-sharing websites that police concentrate on “the worst of the worst” and located Forstell’s IP address and other information allegedly linking him to one of them, Lombardo said.

San Jose police arrested Forstell, 44, at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Seaside at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on suspicion of possession of child pornography, a felony, police said.

He was later released on his own recognizance, Lombardo said.

Detectives used a search warrant Wednesday to enter his home in the 200 block of La Pala Drive and found the pornographic images from a forensic examination of his personal computer, Lombardo said.

Police did not find evidence that Forstell had manufactured digital images of sexual acts involving children or that he abused children, Lombardo said.

Detectives are working to identify the children shown in the pornography, police said.

“We are looking out for any victims,” Lombardo said.

Meanwhile, the superintendent of the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District in San Jose said that Forstell had been a substitute teacher at 11 of the district’s 27 schools from 2009 until Feb. 10.

Superintendent Stephen Fiss said that he posted a letter to parents Thursday on the district’s website assuring them there is no confirmation any children in the seized images were kids from Alum Rock schools.

Fiss said Forstell had been on the district’s list of 100 substitute teachers and that “no problems with his subbing were reported.”

“He was on our regular substitute list,” Fiss said. “He was hired to full day to day sub duties.”

The district, with elementary and middle schools, put Forstell through a standard background check through the U.S. Department of Justice using his fingerprints and it “indicated he had no criminal record,” Fiss said.

“We have no way of determining this kind of thing if it’s not in the record,” Fiss said.

As a substitute, Forstell would have been able to login to the district’s computers in class but its Internet firewall would have prevented him from downloading any pornography, Fiss said.

The district’s firewall has many restrictions on websites that school officials do not want students to access, such as YouTube and even newspaper sites with advertisements not appropriate for children, Fiss said.

At the time of his arrest, Forstell was working full time as a physical education teacher for grades 1 to 5 at the school in Seaside, Lombardo said.

If convicted on the possession charge, Forstell could face three to 10 months in prison, three years of probation and be required to register as a sex offender, he said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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