A former Clovis teacher was sentenced Wednesday to 38 years to life in federal prison for molesting a second-grade girl two years ago at Freedom Elementary School.
Neng Yang, 46, pleaded guilty in March in U.S. District Court in Fresno to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child in exchange for 38 years in prison.
Yang still faces 45 felony counts of child molestation in Fresno County Superior Court. If convicted in Superior Court, he faces life in prison.
Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Clovis Police Chief Matt Basgall said the sentence ends one of the most horrible criminal acts against a child.
"The unconscionable acts perpetrated by a trusted teacher on a youngster under the age of 12, in addition to producing child pornography, are crimes that must be addressed with a lengthy prison sentence," Basgall said. "This man should never be in a position to victimize a child like this again."
Police say Yang locked his classroom door, blindfolded the student and tricked her into playing a sexual game with him. He was arrested Jan. 27, 2012, after police discovered video of repeated molestation of the student on his cellphone, according to court records.
Yang used an iPhone and a computer to record and store videos depicting the sexual abuse of a minor on multiple occasions, according to the court records. At the time, the girl was under 12 years of age and under Yang's supervisory control.
Yang was hired by Clovis Unified School District as an instructional aide in 1993. He began his teaching career at Fancher Creek Elementary in 1997 and transferred to Freedom in 2007, where he worked until his arrest.
Clovis Unified fired him in March 2012, and his wife, Kia, later divorced him.
A year ago, Clovis Unified paid the girl's family $2 million to settle a lawsuit over the sexual abuse that occurred in December 2011 and January 2012.
Wagner said Yang's arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Clovis police and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.
"For most people, criminal acts against children are impossible to comprehend," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Fresno. "For a child who has been tricked and sexually exploited by a trusted teacher -- while at school -- the physical and emotional scars will be with them forever."