Newton teacher pleads not guilty to child pornography charges; held on $35,000 bail

For the second time in two years, a Newton teacher is facing child pornography charges.

Middle school teacher Steven Chan, 57, was ordered held on $35,000 cash bail after his arraignment today in Newton District Court.

Chan was arrested Thursday on two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of dissemination of child pornography, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said.

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Chan is an F.A. Day Middle School math teacher. He is also boys’ gymnastics coach at Newton North. He has been suspended from both posts.

The arrest comes after David Ettlinger, a former teacher at the Underwood Elementary School in Newton, was arrested in early 2012 and sentenced early this year to 45 years in jail for his role in an online child pornography ring.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said today that Chan’s arrest stemmed from a State Police investigation that led to a search warrant being executed Thursday at his home.

Fitzgerald said the search of Chan’s home uncovered tens of thousands of pornographic images, many of them depicting young girls under the age of 18.

Fitzgerald said Chan allegedly downloaded images from the Web and shared them, though none of the images were created by Chan.

Fitzgerald also said Chan, who faces a minimum of 10 years in prison, had been cooperating with police and had admitted downloading child pornography images.

Defense attorney Christopher Shannon said, “He has been a distinguished teacher for 23 years” and emphasized, “There is zero suggestion any images found in his home were locally produced.”

Shannon suggested that Chan had been unwittingly sharing child pornography on his computer.

“He looks forward to defending himself,” said Shannon.

Chan wore a green T-shirt when he appeared in the prisoners’ dock. He kept his hands over his face during the whole proceeding.

Pam Wright, whose daughter is going into 8th grade at the middle school, said today that she was saddened by the news about Chan.

He never taught her daughter or her son, who is now in high school, said Wright, but their friends knew him as a funny man whose lessons sometimes wondered off topic, but who was a good teacher.

“But what scares me,” she said, “is it’s not just Newton. It’s everywhere. So there’s a lot more out there where the people aren’t caught yet.”

Noting that Chan is the second Newton teacher to be arrested recently, she said, “How many other teachers are there?”

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