DENVER - The former preschool teacher from Paddington Station Preschool who pleaded guilty to a federal charge of distributing child pornography was sentenced Tuesday.
U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez sentenced 46-year-old Dave Moe to serve 96 months in federal prison and to spend 10 years on supervised release. Moe will also have to pay $5,000 in restitution to victims. When he is released from prison he will have to register as a sex offender.
Prosecutors say a suspected pornography file that was being offered online in 2012 was tracked to Moe's home, and at least 800,000 images of child pornography or erotica and more than 13,000 videos were found on the man's computer and computer media.
John Davis, an expert who evaluates sexual offenders, testified that Moe was meeting emotional needs with the children at the school and meeting sexual needs through the criminal images. Davis said Moe did not pass a polygraph question about engaging in sexual behavior where he worked. However, Davis said, "I believe Moe had boundaries. It was work at work and fantasy at home."
9NEWS talked to a parent outside the courtroom who did not want to be identified.
"It has been torture," the mother said. "We don't know what might have happened to our children."
In court on Tuesday, Moe talked publically for the first time. He often cried as he stood at the podium in his prison orange. He parents and sibling sat behind him.
He told his family he was sorry.
"I'm also seeing the hurt and betrayal to the community, to the school, and to the children." Moe said.
He said when he was watching the child pornography he didn't think of it as victimizing a child. He says countless nights in jail and therapy have opened his eyes.
"It's despicable," Moe said. "I'm ashamed and disappointed that I participated in this. To the children, I say, I'm so sorry."
Investigators identified 151 of the children victims in the pornography. Thousands more are unknown. The judge said it sickened him to know what was done to the children.
In court, Moe told the families who had children in his care at the pre-school that he never brought his sexual tendency towards young children online into the school setting.
"I never acted out what I viewed on my computer. I do value children and care about them," he said.
The judge said there is no evidence that he ever did anything to cause harm to the children at the school.
Many parents of Paddington students want access to a detailed journal Moe kept about his students. He wrote about individual students he would spend time with and have physical contact with. He described tickles, hugs, and times they sat on his lap. In court, the children were not named.
In 2001, officials at the school did not report an accusation that Moe inappropriately touched a 3-year-old girl when he changed her diaper.
Moe said, "People may think of me as a bad person and have every right to. I think of myself as a good person who made bad choices."
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)