Former teacher’s assistant from West L.A. sentenced for trading in ‘sadistic’ child pornography images

LOS ANGELES >> A judge sentenced a West Los Angeles man who formerly worked as a teacher’s assistant to eight years in federal prison for distributing “sadistic” child pornography images online, authorities said.
Steven Petlak, 53, pleaded guilty to a single count of distribution of child pornography in July in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“In court filings, Petlak admitted that he made an effort to seek out the worst types of child pornography he could find — in Petlak’s words, “the really dark stuff,” Mrozek said in a written statement.
Images traded via a peer-to-peer file-sharing system included pornographic pictures of children under 15 years old, “including child images deemed to be ‘sadistic’ under the federal sentencing rules,” Mrozek said.
While out of custody and awaiting trial, “Petlak was caught by a law enforcement officer looking at what appeared to be graphic images of a juvenile female,” Mrozek added.
Officials said Petlak had previously worked as a teachers’ assistant, however DOJ officials did not disclose what school or schools he has worked for.
Petlak received his sentence from U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald.
“Predators who seek out child pornography online threaten the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable in our real-world community. This defendant’s conduct exemplifies a horrific and dark part of our society, and the sentence today reflects the harm caused by defendants who trade in these heinous materials, ” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen Decker said.
Upon his release from federal prison, Petlak will be required to register as a sex offender and stay away from places where children are present.

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