By Joe Johnson
A former Oconee County middle school teacher today was sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography.
Ira New III, 56, of Watkinsville was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Athens to serve 37 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.
In a prepared statement, Acting U. S. Attorney Peter Leary spoke of the severity of New’s criminal behavior.
“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” Leary said. “Every time an image of child pornography is viewed, the demented business of sexually exploiting innocent children only grows stronger.”
According to court documents, Yahoo investigators alerted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in August 2019 about 27 images of children at nudist colonies.
After Yahoo’s investigation, the page was linked back to New who at the time was teaching eighth grade at Malcolm Bridge Middle School.
Around the time of this investigation, New self-reported showing a picture of a topless female to his class and he subsequently resigned from the Oconee County School District.
On Sept. 5, 2019 the GBI conducted a “knock-and-talk" at the former teacher’s home. New consented to allow forensic agents to view his phone, and they found it contained child pornography, according to Leary’s office, and a forensic review revealed the phone contained approximately 94 images of child pornography, including images of girls ranging in age from 12 to 14.
New pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography in May.
His 37-month sentence is slightly more than three years. There is no parole in the federal penal system.