Gary teacher's aide charged with child porn, voyeurism

GARY, Ind. (WLS) -- An employee of a school in Gary is being held on child pornography and voyeurism charges, the Lake County Sheriff said Monday.

In a press release, the sheriff's office said the man is an employee of Lake Ridge New Tech School.

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The Lake County Sheriff announced child pornography charges against a Gary middle school employee Monday afternoon.

Aaron Lopez Saldana, 48, was charged with one count of child pornography, one count of child pornography with an aggravating factor found, one count of voyeurism using a camera, and one count of obstruction of justice, all felonies.

Police said they were called by a Lake Ridge New Tech school resource officer after a student reported that her friend, a former student at the school, had broken into Saldana's home. In the course of the burglary, the student told police the burglar discovered photographs of young boys in various stages of undress, as well as flash drives with video files. The student told police the burglar took several of the flash drives with him.

"The information provided to investigators was about an unidentified male who had broken into the home of Mr. Saldana and had taken electronic devices, including laptops and USB storage devices, which allegedly contained pictures of child pornography of local children," said Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez.

Police said the student told them burglar was very concerned about what he had found, but did not want to turn the electronic files in because he would be arrested for the burglary, so she reached out to her school resource officer.

Police confirmed Saldana had reported a burglary at his residence, and said they were able to interview the burglary suspect. Based on the information they received from him, police were able to obtain a search warrant for Saldana's home. Police have not identified the burglary suspect, nor is it clear if he has been charged.

Police said when they arrived at Saldana's home Saturday to execute the warrant, Saldana appeared to be burning photo negatives and other evidence. When executing the search warrant, police said they found photographs, photo negatives, video files and a pinhole hidden camera.

Saldana was arrested at his home and charged based on what was found in the course of executing the search warrant.

School officials said that Saldana had served as an instructional assistant at Lake Ridge New Tech School and oversaw their photography club. He was hired in 2010 and officials said a background check conducted at the time of his hiring did not find any previous arrests or convictions.

"His arrest was based on events that took place outside of the school district. Our initial investigation reveals that nothing has occurred during school hours or on school grounds," said the school district's superintendent.

A message on the school's website said, "We were notified over the weekend of the arrest of one of our employees concerning an event that happened outside of the school district. As we learn more details we will have more information. Thank you for your patience and we will update you later today."

At a school board meeting Monday night, Saldana was officially fired from the Lake Ridge School District.

School officials said counselors are on hand to help students, as well as support and help for any students or parents from the Fair Haven Rape Crisis Center in Highland, Ind. Fair Haven officials said students are welcome to reach out to their 24-hour rape crisis line at 219-218-2552.

Police and school officials Police said they are still working to identify the minors in the photos and videos. If you have any information, contact the Lake County Indiana Sheriff's Office.
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