SVMS custodian nabbed in federal child porn sting

by Kevin Force, Editor

Smithson Valley Middle School custodian Barry Craig Nielsen, 53, of Bulverde, was arrested Thursday and now faces state and federal charges for possession of child pornography.

Nielsen was arrested as part of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that targets those suspected of creating child pornography and distributing it over the Internet.

Nielsen's home was raided by federal authorities with the assistance of sheriff's department officers on Thursday after the ICE investigation netted a search warrant. CCSO Detective Vance Weltner arrested Nielsen on the spot on state charges, and the federal charges followed after an arrest warrant was secured.

Now, Nielsen is being held in federal custody in San Antonio and faces between five and 20 years in prison if he is convicted. No bail has been set on Nielsen's federal charge, but he is scheduled to appear in district court at 9:30 a.m. today.

The state has charged him with third-degree felony possession of child pornography, which is punishable by a two- to 10-year sentence in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. His bail in that case was set at $200,000.

An ICE spokeswoman said agents siezed about 200 video casettes and computer disks and several hard drives. Authorities are still investigating whether Nielsen created any of the illegal material or was simply in possession of it.

A 23-year employee of the Comal Independent School District and a custodial supervisor, Nielsen worked nights at SVMS. CISD officials fired him shortly after his arrest and cooperated with authorities in the investigation. However, no evidence of illegal activities were uncovered at the school.


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