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United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Georgia

10/18/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/18/2021 14:34

Former Georgia Middle School Teacher Sentenced to Prison for Possessing Child Pornography

ATHENS, Ga. - A former Oconee County, Georgia, middle school teacher was sentenced to federal prison today after he pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

Ira New, III, 56, of Watkinsville, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 37 months in prison to be followed by ten years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal after previously pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. In addition, New will have to register for life as a sex offender upon release from prison. There is no parole in the federal system.

"Ira New was entrusted with the care and safety of middle school students at a time when he was actively victimizing children by possessing pornography of kids in the same age group. Every time an image of child pornography is viewed, the demented business of sexually exploiting innocent children only grows stronger. New-and predators like him-will be held accountable for their crimes against children in the Middle District of Georgia," said Acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. "Protecting children is among the highest priorities for our office and our law enforcement partners."

"The GBI will continue to work tirelessly to protect innocent victims. No child should be subject to online exploitation. As we work with internet service providers and other law enforcement agency partners, we are ensuring that predators like this defendant are held accountable," said GBI Director Vic Reynolds.

According to court documents, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) received a cyber tip from Yahoo investigators in Aug. 2019 regarding approximately 27 images of children at nudist colonies. Yahoo determined that the account belonged to New, who was an eighth-grade teacher at the time, and the cyber tip was escalated to the GBI. GBI discovered New taught at Malcolm Bridge Middle School in Watkinsville and had recently self-reported to the school administration for displaying an image of a topless female to his class. Subsequently, New resigned from his teaching position at Oconee County Schools and consented to a Professional Standards Commission sanction of reprimand regarding his teaching certificate.

The GBI conducted a knock and talk at his home on Sept. 5, 2019. New consented to allow forensic agents to view his phone, and they found it contained child pornography. A supplemental forensic review revealed New's phone contained approximately 94 images of child pornography, including images of 12 to 14-year-old girls. When asked when he started to take an interest in children, New responded that it had been in the "past couple of years." New also stated that he never sent the photographs to anyone, but he emailed the photographs to himself.

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 the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the DOJ's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was investigated by the GBI.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shanelle Booker is prosecuting the case.