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Former Teacher Pleads Guilty To Child Porn Charges

By Craig Koscho

Former Jenny Lind Elementary School teacher Wesley Earle Levi, 53, faces 30 days jail time and 36 months of probation after entering a tentative guilty plea on misdemeanor child pornography charges.

The agreement was announced Tuesday morning in Department 2 of Calaveras County Superior Court during what was to have been Levi´s arraignment.

Levi was picked up Jan. 2, 2004, on the charge of secretly photographing children in his sixth-grade class.

The photographs involved three victims, sitting in compromising positions, such as bending over so you could see down the child´s blouse, authorities said at the time of Levi´s arrest.

In addition to the jail sentence, which could be served as work-release time, Levi also must participate in counseling and is subject to periodic search and seizure by authorities.

He also will have to register as a sex offender, Deputy District Attorney Dan McConnell said.

The matter will be turned over to the Probation Department for a pre-plea report to determine if any other action may be appropriate.

That report, and possibly a formal plea, will be heard at 8:45 a.m., April 12.

Judge Douglas Mewhinney said he also wanted to make sure Levi has never previously been arrested on similar charges.

“I want to know if there´s ever been any incidents like this before,” Mewhinney said, adding he also would ask probation to consider some type of limited access for Levi with children.

While the photos did not involve children in explicit sexual conduct, “they are, however, certainly disturbing,” Mewhinney said.

He also ordered the photographs sealed.

Authorities found the photos after a burglary was reported at Levi´s home, McConnell said. The pictures were found strewn about the ransacked residence.

Levi was arrested at Sacramento International Airport as he returned from a holiday trip to Idaho.

The defendant´s lawyer, Sonora attorney Michael Weisberg, would not comment on the case following the proceedings.

If Levi had been convicted at trial, he faced a year behind bars, McConnell said.

The case took a year to get to court because McConnell was trying to see if the federal government was interested in filing its own charges.

As time passed and federal authorities did not respond to his inquiries, McConnell said he needed to proceed with the state´s case.

Levi, who is free on his own recognizance until sentencing, was a probationary teacher at the time of his arrest and was released by the Calaveras Unified School District some time ago, district Superintendent Jim Frost said.

Reprinted With Permission From the Calaveras Enterprise

Contact Craig Koscho at ckoscho@calaverasenterprise.com.