INDIANAPOLIS – An Illinois man, who sexually exploited an underage Hancock County child has been sentenced to 50 years in federal prison for the crime.
Pedro Ibarra, 48, of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, who is a former public school teacher, was sentenced Monday, Aug. 1 in federal court for sexual exploitation of a child and attempted sexual exploitation of a child, officials said in a press release from the Department of Justice.
“The heinous sexual abuse of these children is every parent’s nightmare,” said Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “These tragic crimes reiterate that those who seek to sexually exploit our children online and in person are often the people parents and children should be able to trust.”
In exchange for the federal plea, the State has dismissed the local Hancock County charge in Superior Court 1, a Level 1 felony count of child molesting stemming from the same incident.
“That the victim would not and did not have to testify here was key in the decision making process locally,” Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said. “Ibarra was basically given a life sentence.”
Local officials calculated the earliest Ibarra could be released from federal prison is 2064.
According to court documents, on June 21, 2021, Ibarra engaged in a Google Duo online chat with a boy who lived in Hancock County. The child was under 13 years old at the time. During the chat, Ibarra persuaded the child to engage in sexually explicit conduct.
On June 22, 2021, Ibarra drove from Illinois to Hancock County where he picked the victim up and drove the boy to a local hotel. At the hotel, Ibarra engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the child, which Ibarra recorded on his cell phone.
During the investigation, Ibarra’s cell phone was examined by the Indiana State Police. Officers were able to lawfully access information stored on the device. In addition to images of the Indiana child, an examiner discovered multiple recordings of Ibarra engaged in sexually explicit conduct with another boy. This child was later identified as a boy who lived in Illinois and was younger than 15 years old.
Officials said Ibarra was a Chicago Public School teacher when he committed the crimes and taught elementary school students for more than three years.
“Those who perpetuate crimes against children in Hancock County and throughout the state must know that we will do everything within our power to protect our kids and hold offenders accountable,” Hancock County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Aimee Herring said.
Officials from the local prosecutor’s office sent out a special thanks to their federal partners and officials with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for all of their work on the investigation and prosecution which ultimately resulted in Ibarra’s conviction.
It was officials from the sheriff’s department who worked to have Ibarra in custody within hours of the child’s report.
“Communities place a tremendous amount of trust in teachers, and when someone in such a position commits crimes of sexual exploitation, it is a reminder of how vigilant we need to be in looking out for our children,” Sheriff’s Detective David Wood said.
Herring credited the quick thinking and compassionate law enforcement response from local law enforcement officials Sgt. Richard Vanosdol and Deputy Barb Miers for making the child victim feel comfortable disclosing the abuse the victim endured at the hands of Ibarra.
“The internet has given child predators many tools conveniently at their disposal to interact with, solicit and engage in criminal behavior with children,” Herring said. “As a community, we must be vigilant and continue to put safeguards in place to protect our children as predators constantly change tactics and use advances in technology to facilitate their crimes.”
Officals said the significant sentence imposed shows federal, state and local law enforcement will work together tirelessly to identify child sexual predators and send them to prison where they belong.
“This sentence illustrates our strong commitment to protect our children from those who engage in this type of activity and exploit them,” FBI Indianapolis Special Agent Herbert J. Stapleton said. “Because of the teamwork of the FBI and our law enforcement partners, this perpetrator will no longer be able to prey on the most vulnerable in our community.”
As part of Ibarra’s sentence, Judge James Patrick Hanlon ordered Ibarra be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for life following his release from prison, and the judge ordered Ibarra to pay $30,000 each to both minor victims. Ibarra must also register as a sex offender wherever he lives, works or goes to school, as required by law.