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Former TX Teacher Gets Max Sentence for Child Porn Videos

substitute teacher
Woman in handcuffs | Image by lunopark/Shutterstock

Former Texas substitute teacher Sonya Conchita Murillo, 33, has been sentenced to the maximum term of 30 years in federal prison for producing child pornography.

The evidence presented in court included videos depicting Murillo engaging in sexual acts with a young child, reported the Texas Scorecard.

Murillo, who previously worked for Marfa ISD in West Texas, was arrested in June 2023 on federal charges of sexual exploitation of children following the arrest of her then-boyfriend, Patricio Javier “PJ” Serrano, a youth softball coach. Serrano was apprehended in May 2023 for possessing child sexual abuse materials involving images and videos of young boys, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

During the investigation into Serrano’s activities, authorities stumbled upon a trove of damning evidence implicating Murillo. According to an affidavit obtained by the Texas Scorecard, at least eight Snapchat videos were discovered depicting Murillo engaging in sexual acts with a young child, aged between 3 and 5 years old.

U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza, in a statement issued by the Justice Department, emphasized the severity of Murillo’s actions, stating, “The fact that the judge delivered the maximum allowed 30-year imprisonment to this defendant for producing child pornography is indicative of the utterly horrendous predatory acts Murillo committed.”

John Morales, special agent in charge for the FBI El Paso division, echoed this sentiment in the press release, emphasizing the breach of trust Murillo perpetrated.

“Children trust their teachers and caretakers, and Murillo betrayed that trust. No child should ever have to question the motives of an adult they interact with at school or at home,” Morales said.

Despite never being issued a Texas teaching certificate, Murillo managed to secure a job within the education system, raising concerns about the effectiveness of background checks and oversight procedures. Furthermore, her name was not listed in the state’s “Do Not Hire Registry,” reported the Texas Scorecard.

In light of her conviction, Judge David Counts recommended that Murillo serve her sentence at the Carswell Unit in Fort Worth, a specialized prison for female inmates. Meanwhile, Serrano, her former boyfriend, who pleaded guilty in October, is serving a 97-month sentence in a low-security federal facility in Bastrop.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office stated that the investigation into Murillo’s crimes was a collaborative effort involving multiple agencies, including the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Marfa Police Department.

As covered extensively by The Dallas Express, a number of scandals involving public school teachers and staffers committing crimes involving minors have come to light in recent years, including in Dallas ISD. Such accusations of misconduct have led to calls for more transparency in state authorities’ handling of such reports, as well as improved background check procedures during the hiring process.

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