Middle school teacher arrested on the first day of school in child pornography bust
John Vastis, shown in a 2009 photo, faces three separate charges related to a child pornography bust.
Vastis teaches fifth and sixth graders at a suburban Chicago middle school.
By RYAN GORMAN
A well-regarded suburban Chicago middle school teacher was arrested Tuesday by federal agents in a child pornography bust – on the first day of school.
John Vastis, 51, of Lakemoor, Illinois, faces several charges for allegedly forcing a 16-year-old boy to send him pornographic images and videos, authorities said. Vastis teaches fifth and sixth graders.
Department of Homeland Security agents and local police first learned of Vastis, also known as "Paul," after executing a search warrant on the minor's home on August 15, according to a pair of affidavits obtained by AOL News.
He was previously featured in the Buffalo Grove Tribune as having been one of 10 teachers awarded a Walmart gift card to use in their classrooms.
The boy admitted to sharing explicit images with Vastis and engaging in explicit chats with the balding man more than 30-years his senior, investigators said. "Minor A" also provided police with Vastis' cell phone number.
Vastis first met the boy via Skype, the online voice and video chat program, according to the teen, who has not been named because he is a minor.
An analysis of the data recovered from the boy's computer showed the duo exchanged over 3,200 lines of chat messages beginning in January 2013, authorities said.
"Are u really 16 [sic]?" Vastis asked the boy during one of their chats, according to a transcript included in the court documents.
"Yea, but most people think I'm a cop [sic]," the boy replies.
"I will admit it crossed my mind... ur into older guys?" Vastis asks.
The boy says he is and Vastis replies that he is 50-years-old, 5'8" and 245-pounds.
"Nicee [sic]," the teen says.
The pair then exchange pics and the boy says he turns 17 in a few months, according to the transcript.
"I'd love to meet you sometime but I will admit I'm nervous that you might be a cop or something," wrote Vastis. "If I could see u on cam I'd feel less apprehensive."
The boy asks Vastis what he wants to see, the boy complies and they agree to meet.
Vastis is still apprehensive about meeting and requests the boy send him more pictures in suggestive poses, the boy complies.
Still, Vastis hesitates.
"Probably best to wait a while, the risk is so much worse for me than for u [sic]."
The boy later sends Vastis a video showing him masturbate, which Vastis said was "smoking hot." The boy sends a handful of more videos over the course of the next few weeks.
Vastis makes the boy swear he will not tell anyone, but agonizes over meeting him. The teen then sends him a video showing a boy around the age of 10 engaging in sex acts.
The most recent chat took place on July 13. Vastis never met the teen in person.
Police do not believe the disgraced teacher was ever a risk to his students, according to the documents.
In a statement, the school district said it is fully cooperating with authorities.
Vastis faces 15 years in prison if convicted, and remains in federal custody.
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