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Published On: Sat, Sep 7th, 2019

Burbank teacher Sean Sigler pleads guilty to pornographic teen images

A former elementary school teacher pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges for sexually exploiting his 15-year-old former student by producing pornographic images of her.

Sean David Sigler, 55, of Burbank, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of production of child pornography. Sigler, whom a federal grand jury indicted in May 2018, previously taught fifth-grade students at Bret Harte Elementary School in Burbank and at Gardner Street Elementary School in Hollywood.

This case is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles and the Burbank Police Department.

According to a criminal complaint filed in this case, Sigler became involved in the victim’s personal life after the child left Sigler’s classroom. He then used his position as former teacher, mentor, and father figure to gain the trust of the victim and her parent. Sigler then exploited that trust to gain sexual access to the minor victim.

Over the course of 15 months, Sigler regularly transported the victim to his home, where he gave her alcohol and pills and then photographed and filmed his sexual activity with her. Sigler began having sex with the minor victim when she was just 15 years old.

Sigler admitted in his plea agreement that he created multiple sexually explicit videos of the victim, and that he also took sexually explicit photographs of her, beginning when she was 15 years old. Some of the child pornography he created included images and videos involving sadomasochistic conduct.

Sigler also created child pornography by modifying a pornographic image of the minor victim’s body and digitally superimposing the face of a different underage former student. Sigler’s digital devices contained numerous images and videos of his sexual acts with the victim, as well as more than 5,000 images of child pornography depicting unknown pre-pubescent minors, according to court documents.

As part of his plea agreement, Sigler agreed to forfeit $271,506 in cash seized by the government, which constitutes the proceeds from the sale of the home where he produced child pornography.

U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt has scheduled a December 5 sentencing hearing, at which time Sigler will face a statutory maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison. Each count of production of child pornography also carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 19,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2018, more than 3,000 (3,191) child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 850 (859) victims identified or rescued.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney, Central District of California’s Violent and Organized Crime and Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Sections.

Photo/John Hain

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