Three men accused of molestation in child porn ring that spans multiple Southern California counties
Three men, including one who had been allowed to adopt two boys and work as a teaching assistant at Desert Hot Springs High School, have been charged with child molestation and human trafficking in a case involving what authorities described as a significant ring of child pornography.
Two of the men – William Clyde Thompson, 54, of Las Vegas, and John David Yoder, 43, of Desert Hot Springs – visited skate parks and other sites frequented by teenagers and young children, ostensibly to recruit them for a modeling business, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said Tuesday. But the modeling business was fake, and the minors were lured to produce pornography, Hestrin said.
The third person charged was Erick Alan Monsivais, 29, of Los Angeles.
Susan von Zabern, director of Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, would not discuss Yoder's adoption case, citing privacy regulations. She did say the department is reviewing its adoption practices.
Joan L. Boiko, communications manager for the Palm Springs Unified School District, said Yoder passed a background check. The district would not comment beyond a written statement that said Yoder, who works with special education students, has been placed on unpaid leave and that the district is cooperating with the investigation.
Authorities would not say whether Yoder's children or students are among the victims or detail the number of victims.
Yoder was charged with oral copulation of a child under age 14, human trafficking of a victim under 18 and lewd acts with a child under 14.
Thompson was charged with sexual intercourse or sodomy with a victim 10 or younger, oral copulation or sexual penetration with a victim 10 or younger, sexual assault of a child under 14, lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 14, procurement of a child under under 16 for lewd and lascivious acts, use of a minor to perform prohibited acts, bringing or sending child pornography into the state and conspiracy to commit child pornography.
Monsivais was charged with four counts of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a victim 10 or younger, three counts of oral copulation of a child under 14, lewd acts on a minor under 14 and human trafficking of a minor under 18.
Investigators think at least one underage boy was sexually abused by Thompson in Desert Hot Springs, as well as in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Yoder and Monsivais have pleaded not guilty. Thompson is in federal custody in Nevada after being charged with child pornography and child exploitation in a separate case there. He has not made a plea in the Riverside County case.
"This (case) rises to the top of ones we've seen in Southern California," said Robert Goetsch, Homeland Security Investigations assistant agent-in-charge.
Hestrin asked parents whose children might have come in contact with the defendants to call a hotline at 866-SAFE-595.
Almost three dozen computers, digital and video cameras were seized, according to a grand jury indictment filed in U.S. District Court, in the Nevada district.
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department began investigating on Jan. 28 after receiving a tip from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children about Thompson's arrest in Nevada in January 2013.
Thompson failed to appear in court and was a fugitive until he was arrested Jan. 27 in Needles. He had been using the aliases Tony Bailor and Jason Brock. Authorities said they found the phone numbers of Monsivais and Yoder on his phone.
Investigators said that the Desert Hot Springs Police Department had received reports in March 2014 of two men trying to solicit boys at a skate park to do modeling. Sheriff's investigators following up on those reports identified the men as Thompson and Yoder, authorities said.
Investigators also think that Thompson paid Yoder to recruit minor boys to be filmed for child pornography.