FRESNO, CA—Michael Scott Cooper, 43, of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty today to possession of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to the plea agreement, Cooper possessed images and videos depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Cooper possessed the child pornography on his computer, and many of the images depicted prepubescent minors.
Cooper was a teacher at Loudan Elementary School in Bakersfield. He was arrested on October 7, 2010. He has been out of custody on electronic monitoring with various restrictions, including access to children, computers, and the Internet. Cooper was immediately taken into the custody upon entry of his guilty plea today.
Cooper is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on July 30, 2012. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime term of supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bakersfield Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri is prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.