As jury selection was underway in his trial, a former Jefferson Parish public school teacher pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Sept. 27) to child pornography charges, including offenses that involved a student.
Walter Sologaistoa, 46, of Kenner, will receive a 13-year prison sentence on Tuesday (Oct 4). Upon his release from prison, Sologaistoa will have to register as a sex offender for 25 years and be electronically monitored by the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections for the rest of his life.
Sologoaistoa was a Grace King High School Spanish teacher and soccer coach when he was arrested in 2013 in connection with the case. He pleaded guilty as charged to two counts of possession of child pornography involving juveniles under age 13, one count of possession of child pornography involving a juvenile under age 17 and one count of production of child pornography involving a juvenile under age 17.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crime Unit initiated the investigation after its agents were able to download four child pornographic images remotely from Sologaistoa’s computer through a peer-to-peer sharing website, according to evidence that was to be presented at his trial.
During the course of the investigation that followed, members of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Digital Forensics Unit found videos and photographs on Sologaistoa’s home laptop computer, including imagery of a student. Sologaistoa produced the images of the student using a cellular device, taken while he and the girl were inside a Metairie bar that he co-owned at the time, according to evidence that was to be presented at trial.
Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court, in accepting the pleas, decided to sentence Sologaistoa to 13 years in prison.
Sologaistoa, who gained his release from jail after posting a $130,000 bond two years ago, was remanded to custody on Tuesday. Judge Mentz authorized Sologaistoa’s release from jail until next week’s sentencing hearing so that he can get his affairs in order, but Sologaistoa must have his whereabouts electronically monitored by police until then.
Attorneys spent most of Monday and Tuesday morning selecting a jury that would have weighed evidence in the case. The process was almost complete late Tuesday morning when Sologaistoa pleaded guilty.
Assistant District Attorneys Angel Varnado and Rhonda Goode-Douglas prosecuted the case.