Former Clovis teacher admits to sexual exploitation of student

FRESNO, Calif.

"[Neng] Yang betrayed every trust that's given to him as an educator," said Mike Prado, the resident agent in charge at the Fresno office of Homeland Security Investigations.

Yang is headed to prison for molesting a student in his classroom at Freedom Elementary School. Monday's plea means Yang faces at least 38 years in federal prison. At 46 years old, he won't be eligible for parole until he's almost 77. But even then, he may still have more time to serve.

"A pillar of the community." That's how Neng Yang's attorney described the disgraced former second grade teacher in his previous life. His distinguished teaching career came to a crashing halt in January 2012 when a suspicious parent and Clovis police unearthed disturbing details of a horrible betrayal.

Investigators said Yang got a student alone in his classroom, locked the door, blindfolded her, and tricked her into playing a sexual game with him. And he recorded the entire incident on his iPhone.

"This is much more than just looking at a picture," Prado said. "This is an exploitation of a child, in this case a local victim. That's a child that's never going to be able to reclaim her innocence."

Clovis police took the phone from Yang at school and arrested the teacher. The arrest also prompted changes at Clovis schools, like windows in classroom doors.

Federal and state prosecutors both charged Yang with crimes, but the cases stalled for nearly two years until a plea deal in federal court Monday. ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says punishments are often severe in federal cases.

"Child pornography are real difficult cases for the government," he said. "They're coming down hard on those cases, but this is even more. This is where he was getting into not just the pornography, but the molesting."

Capozzi says Yang will probably spend his 38-year federal sentence alongside other child molesters in federal prison. Investigators say it's their goal to keep him in prison as long as possible.

"You know, he could get out in his seventies," Capozzi said. "Then again, he's facing charges in state court."

In fact, Yang is due back in county court in two weeks, but there's no agreement in that case. He's facing a life sentence if he's convicted on all the charges, so if he survived to the end of his federal prison term, he could possibly go from federal prison to state prison for the last years of his life.

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