Breaking: Westminster Conservatory instructor arrested, charged with child pornography

By Kaitlyn McCormick 

A Westminster Conservatory music instructor was arrested Friday following an investigation into online child exploitation, according to a press release from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office. 

José Sánchez, 58, of Monroe, a music instructor who provides lessons to children from a private West Windsor studio, was arrested and charged with two counts of child pornography, according to the prosecutor’s office. 

The investigation was prompted after detectives with the prosecutor’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit received information from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office last month that a Mercer County individual was uploading child pornography, according to the release.

On Oct. 7, detectives with the ICAC Unit executed a search warrant at a West Windsor residence. Prosecutors charged Sánchez with viewing and sharing child pornography.

Sánchez now faces charges of second-degree file sharing of child pornography and third-degree posession of child pornography, according to the prosecutor’s office. 

Second-degree child pornography crimes carry a five to 10 year sentence in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000; the third-degree crime carries a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, according to the release issued Oct. 11. 

The arrest took place without incident, and Sánchez’s electronic devices were seized for forensic examination. The prosecutor’s office filed a motion to detain Sánchez pending trial. 

The Westminster Conservatory is part of Rider University, offering children’s music classes and lessons on the Princeton campus.  

Sánchez had been teaching violin at the Westminster Conservatory, but after his arrest his teacher’s biography was removed from Rider’s website.  Rider’s website formerly reported that the Venezeulan native was a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, and had once served as the Director of the Children’s Orchestra from the Institute of Culture in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Rider’s Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown said Wednesday that the university was made aware of the charges Tuesday and that Sánchez is not actively employed by Rider. 

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