The following press release was issued on Friday, January 13, 2023 by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of Montana.
BILLINGS — A former Judith Gap School teacher who admitted to possessing child pornography after Facebook submitted a tip to authorities was sentenced today to 78 months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Jayson Gayo, 28, of Harlowton, pleaded guilty in August 2022 to possession of child pornography as charged in an indictment.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. Judge Watters also ordered $3,000 restitution.
The government alleged in court documents and in statements in court that in August 2020, Facebook submitted a number of Cybertips indicating that child pornography was likely being transmitted from an account associated with Gayo. Gayo was a teacher at Judith Gap School at the time. There was no indication that the images or Gayo’s conduct involved students at the school.
An investigation led to the execution of a search warrant of Gayo’s residence, where law enforcement collected multiple electronic media items. A separate warrant was served on Facebook concerning Gayo’s account. In total, law enforcement determined that Gayo’s media contained 209 images and 146 videos of child pornography. The videos showed children as young as that of a toddler being sexually abused by adults. The government further alleged that Gayo not only possessed child pornography but also was an administrator of a group involving those with an interest in pornography.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno B. Baucus prosecuted the case, which was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.
This case was initiated under the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative, which was launched in 2006 to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. Through a network of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, Project Safe Childhood attempts to protect children by investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation. It is implemented through partnerships including the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The ICAC Task Force Program was created to assist state and local law enforcement agencies by enhancing their investigative response to technology facilitated crimes against children.