Former Ballston Spa elementary music teacher Timothy Brehmer was sentenced Wednesday to more than five years in federal prison for possessing child pornography, at a proceeding where even more troubling details about the case were revealed.
In sentencing Brehmer in Federal District Court, Judge Gary Sharpe referenced the harm caused to the children depicted in the child pornography images he downloaded from the Internet, but also spoke of images Brehmer possessed of his own students.
Prosecutor Richard Belliss clarified later the images were still photos of the students, fully clothed, taken apparently during the course of the school day.
The photos, though, were focused on particular areas of their bodies.
Belliss referenced the photos in his own sentencing memorandum, writing of Brehmer’s “use of erotica pictures of his former students to pleasure himself.”
Sharpe emphasized that the children in those photos were in Brehmer’s control and that, had the school district had the benefit of Brehmer’s statement to authorities regarding the student photos, “that they would have removed you from your post sooner.”
As it happened, Brehmer was immediately suspended from his job at the Ballston Spa Central School District after his December 2011 arrest and barred from school property. His June 2012 guilty plea in the case also carried the agreement that he surrender his teaching license and resign from the district. That resignation was accepted over the summer.
Ballston Spa schools spokesman Stuart Williams said late Wednesday afternoon that investigators notified the district this past spring of the photos of students found on Brehmer’s computer, but Williams said the information they received regarding the photos did not call for further notification of parents beyond the communication they had after Brehmer’s arrest.
Brehmer was also not formally charged with a crime, or formally identified as the photographer, related to the photos of his students. The plea concerned the pornographic images of other children that he downloaded from the Internet.
Brehmer had been employed as a music teacher for kindergarten through fifth grade at each of the district’s elementary schools — Malta Avenue, Milton Terrace North, Milton Terrace South and Wood Road. He was also a member of the adjunct music staff at Schenectady County Community College, where he was dismissed immediately after his December arrest.
He was charged in December 2011 after Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators visited his home at 24 Third Ave. in Broadalbin and found dozens of still images and video files depicting child pornography in his computer.
The images on his desktop computer were received between April 2007 and December 2011, but according to court records, Brehmer told investigators he had been searching for and downloading child pornography since 1998.
Brehmer was represented by attorney Peter Moschetti.
In court Wednesday, Brehmer told the court “I do accept full responsibility for my actions. My arrogance and pride destroyed my life as I knew it.”
He noted ruined relationships with family and friends, that he “betrayed the trust” of the people who knew him and worked with him.
“I’m truly at a loss for words of what I feel and what I have felt through this process,” Brehmer told the court. “There is not a moment that goes by that I haven’t regretted my actions. I’m deeply sorry for all those I hurt by my actions.”
His statement, though, did not directly reference the children in the images he downloaded from the Internet, or the clothed photos of his own students.
Sharpe, on the other hand, focused exclusively on that in his comments. The judge spoke of the children in the Internet images, the hurt caused to them as they were forced to perform those acts and the continued damage caused when people like Brehmer download and view them.
“Were it not that there was a market for that which you are a participant in, it would reduce the scope of that abuse of those children,” he told Brehmer.
Sharpe then sentenced him to a total of five years, three months in federal prison. The sentence was three months over the mandatory minimum, but also at the bottom end of federal sentencing guidelines.
Brehmer, who had been free pending the outcome of his case, was taken into custody to begin serving his sentence.
He originally was targeted as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative led by Homeland Security investigators to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, illegal immigrant sex offenders and child sex traffickers.
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