Calhan School Teacher gets 4 Years in Prison After Wife Found Child Pornography on His Laptop

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CALHAN, CO  – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn announced that Patrick McMahon, age 30, a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado who was a former school teacher in Calhan, Colorado, was sentenced to serve 46 months in federal prison (nearly 4 years) followed by 5 years supervised release for possession of child pornography.  He was also ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution to certain victims of his crime.  McMahon appeared at the hearing remotely, free on bond.  He was ordered to voluntarily surrender to a Bureau of Prisons facility.  Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) joined in this announcement.

According to the stipulated facts contained in McMahon’s plea agreement, defendant Patrick McMahon was brought to the attention of law enforcement when his ex-wife asked the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) to analyze his laptop.  She was in possession of the computer and was concerned because he had previously used it to show her child pornography.   Colorado’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force obtained a search warrant leading to a computer forensic examination which revealed that the laptop contained child pornography or child erotica. Additionally, there was evidence that a peer-to-peer file sharing program had been installed on the computer and the program contained terms indicative of child pornography.

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Based on the discovery of child pornography on the laptop, state search warrants were obtained for the defendant’s home, school, vehicle, and person. Those search warrants were executed on January 7, 2019.  McMahon was searched at his place of employment, a Calhan high school where he was a teacher.  In addition to the child pornography discovered on the defendant’s laptop, the computer forensic examination revealed child pornography on additional devices belonging to the defendant:  a cell phone recovered from the defendant’s person at the school and a custom desktop computer with two hard drives as well as an external hard drive recovered from the defendant’s home.

Copies of all of the files depicting child pornography were provided to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC reported that 602 of the image files and two of the video files possessed by McMahon depict minor victims previously identified by law enforcement.

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“Stopping the use of child pornography is a top priority for this office,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn.  “Thanks to the outstanding work of our HSI and ICAC partners, Mr. McMahon will go from spending his days in a high school classroom to spending them in a federal prison cell.”

“The victimization of children is a heartbreaking violation of trust and HSI worked relentlessly with our partners to bring McMahon to justice.  Because he was a teacher we hope this sentence ensures he can never work with children again,” said Steven Cagen, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, Denver. “HSI, along with local, state and federal partners, worked tirelessly to investigate and prosecute McMahon to the fullest extent possible.”

This case was investigated by HSI and the Colorado ICAC Task Force.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alecia L. Riewerts.

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Patrick McMahon was charged by Indictment on April 18, 2019, and pleaded guilty to the charge on January 16, 2020.  The sentence was pronounced by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson on November 2, 2020.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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