By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 16, 2008
A law enforcement task force targeting child pornography has obtained an arrest warrant for a missing former teacher at a prestigious school on the grounds of Washington National Cathedral, alleging that sexually oriented photographs of at least one young boy were found on a school camera in his possession, according to authorities and the school.
The suspect, Eric Toth, 26, was a third-grade teacher at the 386-student Beauvoir school for three academic years, until a fellow teacher found the alleged pornographic images on the camera in early June, Paula J. Carreiro, the head of the school, said yesterday. She said Toth was escorted off the cathedral grounds and the camera was given to authorities.
Toth's car was found in August, parked in a garage at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, said D.C. police Sgt. Morani Hines, a member of the FBI's Washington-area Innocent Images Task Force. Hines said yesterday that a note in the car suggested that Toth planned to kill himself in a nearby lake, but no body has been found.
Based on an investigation that began when the task force received the camera, Hines said, authorities obtained an arrest warrant for Toth on a federal charge of possessing child pornography. The warrant was first reported Tuesday by WRC-TV (Channel 4).
Hines declined to say how many images were on the camera, how many boys had been photographed, whether the pictures had been taken at the school or whether anyone whose image was on the camera was enrolled at Beauvoir.
Carreiro said Toth, who lived in Montgomery County, underwent a "very thorough" background check before he started teaching at Beauvoir in the 2005-06 school year. She said he was one of eight teachers for about 80 boys and girls in the third grade.
Before he came under investigation, Toth had informed the school that he planned to leave the school when the 2007-08 academic year ended June 9.
Beauvoir, part of the National Cathedral Foundation, educates youngsters from pre-kindergarten through third grade. Tuition for the current school year is $25,970, plus a $700 registration fee, Beauvoir's Web site says. The foundation also oversees St. Albans School for boys and National Cathedral School for girls.
Carreiro said she sent three letters home to parents in June, informing them of the investigation, urging them to be calm about the matter in front of their children and offering the names of psychologists for any youngsters who needed emotional help.
"Ours is a strong community and people are moving forward," she said yesterday.