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Longtime Chicago Public School Teacher Who ‘Hunted Online’ to ‘Feed His Amoral Desires’ Sentenced to Decades in Prison for Sexual Exploitation of a Child


Pedro Ibarra appears in a mugshot

A former Chicago Public Schools elementary school teacher was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison on Monday for child molestation and child pornography-related charges, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release.

Pedro Ibarra, 48, accepted a plea deal earlier this year on charges of sexual exploitation of a child and attempted sexual exploitation of a child. He was first charged in February 2022 after sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in neighboring Indiana during the summer prior.

A federal sentencing memorandum is written in a way that lucidly narrates and condemns the defendant’s conduct throughout.

“Ibarra drove approximately 4 hours to molest a 12-year-old boy,” the court document begins. “Four hours. Ibarra had four hours to recognize the wrongfulness of his conduct. Ibarra had four hours to think about the fact that the child he was going to see was one-quarter of Ibarra’s age. Ibarra had four hours to recognize that this boy was the same age as some of Ibarra’s elementary school students.”

Prior to his arrest, the defendant taught elementary school students for roughly 18 years, most recently at Volta Elementary in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. A little over a year before he arrested, Ibarra successfully defended against allegations of inappropriately touching and grabbing a brother and sister’s backsides on numerous occasions. Brought up on misdemeanor charges, he was acquitted.

On June 21, 2021, Ibarra began messaging the boy who lived in Indiana. During online Google Duo chats and calls, the defendant convinced the boy to record sexually explicit material. The very next day, Ibarra went to the minor’s house, picked him up, took him to a hotel and sexually abused him. Some of that abuse was recorded.

The boy’s parents called to report him missing that night, however. The boy returned home while police were still there and, according to the sentencing memo, “reported that ‘Pete,’ a man he met online, had brought him to a local motel in Hancock County and engaged him in sexually explicit conduct at the motel.”

Ibarra was identified and arrested on June 23, 2021.

Once local law enforcement learned he had traveled across state lines to abuse the boy, federal agents were brought onto the case and the defendant’s electronic devices were seized. Law enforcement first found the video Ibarra saved from his chats with the Indiana boy as well as additional child pornographic material that depicted another minor.

The second boy’s identity was confirmed by his mother after she was shown “sanitized exploitation images” by federal agents. He was sexually abused at an Americinn in Oswego, Il. in early June 2021. And, again, child pornography content was produced from that meeting.

In the sentencing memo, the government relays graphic depictions of the content discovered on Ibarra’s cellular phone.

“At sentencing, the Government will show the Court a photo of [the Indiana boy], taken on the night Ibarra saw him,” the document says. “His extreme youth is obvious. The wrongfulness of the conduct should have been more than readily apparent from the moment Ibarra saw the child in person – had it not occurred to Ibarra at any moment prior to that.”

In another section of the memo, the government goes back and forth between what the second boy told government agents about what he expected to happen at the hotel and how he appeared to act in conversations with the defendant. In sum, the boy later expressed the idea that he thought Ibarra was also a teenager who he was just going to go swimming with – but the government doesn’t believe that’s true.

From the memo at length:

It is the Government’s position that on June 2, 2021, at the motel in Oswego, Minor Victim 2 intended to have some expression of his romantic feelings for Ibarra, a person the child believed he knew and loved. It is also the Government’s position that Minor Victim 2 did not likely expect a man in his late 40’s to arrive. Based on the text messages, Minor Victim 2 knew Ibarra was able to drive, to pay for a motel room, and that Ibarra held some kind of job; however, there is nothing in the chat to suggest that Minor Victim 2 was seeking a much older man (e.g. references to “Daddy”). The same is true with Minor Victim 1, who also indicated a belief that Ibarra was closer to his own age.

“While each child may have, and likely did, minimize his own participation, the Government simply offers this: that’s what happens when you try to pretend a child can be a consenting sexual partner,” the filing goes on. “A 12- or a 14-year-old boy may develop a crush on or a sexual attraction to another person without desiring invasive sexual contact with a man four times his age. Boys this age think they want a lot of things.”

The document goes on to say that the second boy, months after the encounter, had begun a process of suicidal ideation and is now in weekly therapy sessions in an effort to cope with the trauma.

The government also alleges that Ibarra attempted to, but ultimately failed, to meet up with a 13-year-old boy from Indiana via SnapChat and “another platform.” He also possessed a vast amount of child pornography, the memo notes, “representing at least 19 identified victims,” which the governments believes “is likely the tip of the iceberg with respect to Ibarra’s collection of child sexual abuse material” due to data storage and collection issues.

In agreeing to plead guilty, the defendant accepted a term of between 30 and 90 years behind bars. The government requested a minimum sentence of 50 years. Judge James Patrick Hanlon obliged that request. If Ibarra is ever released from prison, he will be subject to lifetime supervision.

The sentencing memo paints the term of years as necessary to protect the community at large [emphasis in original]:

Parents and school officials trusted Ibarra with children because no one knew he was untrustworthy. No one knew what he did online when he went home. No one knew of his sexual attraction to minors. And perhaps if Ibarra never came to Hancock County, IN, we would lack irrefutable evidence of Ibarra’s depravity. If no one would have immediately arrested Ibarra, seized his phone, and conducted a thorough search of that phone, who knows what would have become of Minor Victim 1’s allegations. If Ibarra had not recorded his sexual violations of minors, it is likely no one would have believed that Ibarra had even one victim.

“Ibarra hunted online and went to significant lengths to cultivate victims,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristina M. Korobov concludes. “Ibarra’s calculation speaks to his character, his sexual appetite, and the lengths to which Ibarra was and is willing to go to feed his amoral desires. … Calculating offenders like Ibarra need that type of deterrence. The community and our children deserve that protection.”

[image via Hancock County Sheriff’s Department]

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