May 14, 2021
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced yesterday that a former elementary school teacher who taught in Burbank and Hollywood was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for producing pornographic images of his 15-year-old ex-student.
After pleading guilty in September 2019 to two counts of production of child pornography, Burbank resident Sean David Sigler, 56, received his sentence yesterday. Sigler had taught fifth grade at Bret Harte Elementary School in Burbank and at Gardner Street Elementary School in Hollywood.
After the victim was a student in Sigler’s fifth grade classroom, he continued to contact her for several years. Sigler began having sex with the minor victim when she was only 15 years old. He reportedly created multiple sexually explicit videos of the victim, in addition to taking sexually explicit photographs of her. The illicit conduct is reported to have taken place between September 2016 and May 2017.
Over the course of 15 months, Sigler regularly transported the victim to his home. He reportedly plied the teenage victim with alcoholic beverages and pills. Authorities stated that Sigler used his position of authority as the victim’s former teacher and mentor to gain her and her parent’s trust. As is frequently the case with these types of crimes, Sigler – as a sexual predator – proceeded to exploit that trust in an effort to gain “sexual access” to the girl, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to the press release, Sigler also created child pornography by modifying a pornographic image of the victim’s body, and then digitally superimposing (photoshopping) the face of a different underage former student. A search of Sigler’s home by law enforcement in January 2018 reportedly uncovered numerous electronic devices that were used as evidence.
Those devices reportedly contained several images and videos of Sigler’s sex acts with the victim. Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirms that more than 5,000 images of child pornography depicting pre-pubescent minors were found.
Sigler agreed to forfeit $271,506 in cash that was reportedly seized by the government. Those funds are confirmed to be the proceeds Sigler made from the sale of the home where he produced the child pornography.
U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt sentenced Sigler. Kronstadt described the defendant’s conduct as “inexcusable,” adding that Sigler’s history of “ruining the lives of minors is unspeakable.”
After his original indictment in May 2018, a federal grand jury charged Sigler with 11 counts. Those counts included:
Following Sigler’s arrest by Burbank Police in January 2018, authorities stated they did not find any evidence suggesting other students of Sigler’s had been sexually abused. Hopefully that is the case. However, as we’ve discussed in many previous blogs, sexual predators like Sigler are notorious for committing repeat offenses and harming multiple victims.
Anyone with additional information regarding a possible survivor of Sigler’s sexual abuse is encouraged to come forward and report the crime to authorities immediately.
Sigler’s child pornography case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Burbank Police Department.
Cases similar to Sigler’s are, unfortunately, much to common. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every 68 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Every nine minutes, that victim is a child. Each year it is estimated that over 60,000 children are victimized by sexual abuse. AB 218 is an opportunity for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to finally obtain the justice they deserve.
AB 218 was passed in 2019, and it extends a limited three-year opportunity for every single survivor of childhood sexual abuse. From January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2022, the statute of limitations on childhood sex crimes is suspended. That means any survivor of childhood sex abuse is now – for a limited time – eligible to file a civil lawsuit and potentially recover a financial damages award.
As Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) Sam Dordulian states in this video, AB 218 is essentially a time machine for survivors. It allows any survivor of childhood sexual abuse to figuratively “go back in time” and file a claim against a sexual predator. There is no statute of limitations currently under AB 218’s three-year lookback window. But this opportunity is only available for a short period of time, and if survivors do not file a claim in time, they will likely be left without any legal recourse. That means survivors should come forward immediately to file a claim.
Coming forward to report a sex crime can be a herculean effort that involves revisiting severe trauma. At DLG, after working to help survivors for decades, we understand how difficult that process can be. That’s why we created a four-tiered, all-encompassing Sex Crimes Division featuring our SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts).
DLG offers top-rated legal representation, but we also provide survivor clients with access to a licensed clinical therapist with 15 years of experience, two victim advocates who have dedicated their lives to helping victims of sex abuse, and an investigative team led by retired LAPD detective, Moses Castillo, who previously worked with the department’s elite Abused Child Unit.
Coming forward to report a childhood sex crime is never easy. But with the help of DLG’s SAJE Team, we can provide you with the support and expert legal representation you need to help ensure the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are ever reported to police, according to RAINN. That means more than two out of every three sex crime cases go unreported. With such a high rate of underreporting, sexual predators often commit repeat offenses, adversely impacting survivors, their families, and their friends.
Of the 310 (out of 1,000) sex crime cases that are reported, only 50 will lead to arrest. Moreover, only 28 of those will lead to a felony conviction, with only 25 ever incarcerated. Those are abysmal numbers that would make anyone leery of coming forward. But the hard truth is that the only way to improve such statistics is for more survivors to come forward and report their predators to authorities.
AB 218 was passed to provide survivors with a new opportunity – to come forward on their own terms. If you’re ready to take that step, contact DLG today to begin the process towards justice and a maximum financial damages award.
DLG is considered the top-rated and most respected sex crimes law firm due to our experience, our results, and our dedication to each client through the four-tiered SAJE Team. Sam Dordulian has won over 100 jury trials and began his career as a sex crimes prosecutor. That’s the type of experience that can’t be found at other firms.
With our investigative team and support network of victim advocates, DLG provides a unique type of representation for survivors that has unparalleled advantages. At DLG, clients aren’t just another number – they’re part of our extended family.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.