Salt Lake City School Board member asked to resign after being arrested on child exploitation charges

Joél-Léhi Organista. Photo: Salt Lake City School Board
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 3, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake City School Board has asked for the resignation of member Joél-Léhi Organista after he reportedly admitted to having downloaded, viewed and kept the images and videos of child pornography.

A probable cause statement from the 3rd District Court says the eight charges Organista is facing are second-degree felonies. He was arrested Wednesday night.

The four other SLC School Board members held a news conference on Wednesday.

“It appears Mr. Organista has admitted to engaging in some of the activities of which he has been accused,” precinct 6 board member and board president Melissa Ford said. “To engage in any such conduct or to exploit or endanger any child is indefensible.”

Precinct 5 board member Mohamed Baayd also spoke.

“My heart is shattered to pieces,” he said. “I wish there is something I could say to the parents of those children who are hurt, and to the parents who have trusted us making sure their children have a great education.”

There is no evidence at this point that any children within the Salt Lake City School District were exploited by Organista, who represents precinct 1, board members noted.

The district reportedly cannot fire Organista unless he is convicted.

Organista’s probable cause statement says a CyberTipLine report was provided to police by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The report contained images and videos from a Dropbox account, a police statement said.

The Dropbox account was connected to a Google fiber account linked to Organista’s Salt Lake County address. The account allegedly contained at least five images and/or videos containing child pornography. One of the images reportedly depicts a girl of approximately 5 years old.

After being read his Miranda rights, Organista allegedly admitted to having downloaded, viewed and kept the images and videos containing child pornography in his Dropbox account, the probable cause statement says.

During the service of a search warrant at Organista’s address, officers located electronic devices including an iPhone, an iPad and an iMac Mini, and allegedly found a Snapchat account where Organista was communicating with children identifying themselves as between 12 and 17 years old.

“In the Snapchat communications, Joel is clearly notified of the ages of the children and asks for naked photographs and directs the children to do sexual acts,” the statement says.

“Joel Lehi Organista has access to young children in his current position of trust involving grades K-12. Joel has shown that, through electronic means, he frequently meets children online, solicits nude photographs from them, and has private online video conversations with them.

“Joel was born in Mexico and it is believed that he currently has family living in Mexico that could encourage him to flee.”


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