Child Exploitation Charges Against Officer

photo of Officer Sebastian Torres
SAPD Officer Sebastian Torres

San Antonio Police Officer Arrested

San Antonio Police Officer Sebastian Torres was arrested on Thursday for “distribution and possession of obscene visual representation of the sexual abuse of children,” according to the KSAT article. There is no information on how SAPD became aware of the situation but they were the initial agency to start the investigation. At some point they deemed it necessary to include the San Antonio FBI office, moving this case into federal jurisdiction. Per Chief McManus,

“The charges against Torres are deeply disturbing. When I was initially made aware of the allegations, he was immediately placed on administrative duty and a joint investigation with the FBI was launched. As a result of his arrest, Torres is now on administrative leave and the case remains under investigation. Because this is now a federal investigation, I cannot comment further except to say that we will continue to provide information and assistance to the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office.”

Officer Sebastian Torres is a 25 year old patrol officer who has been with the San Antonio Police Department for two years. He was placed on administrative leave as soon as the SAPD discovered the crime and while they were investigating. Each charge against Torres has a maximum sentence of 20 years. No information is given on whether Torres is in federal custody or was booked into the Bexar County Jail.

Ignorance of the Law is No Defense

As an officer, Torres should have known that he was committing a crime, but the average person may not realize it. People think of child pornography as only being photos or video of an actual child being sexually abused. According to 18 U.S. Code § 1466A.

Obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children

Any person who, in a circumstance described in subsection (d), knowingly produces, distributes, receives, or possesses with intent to distribute, a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting, that—depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and is obscene; 

There is more to the definition. You can read the full statute at this location. But what the law is saying is that even a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, painting or other type of representation of child pornography is a crime and it’s one that carries severe penalties.

Why Isn’t the Psychological Exam Catching These Predators?

Officer Torres was displaying predatory behavior even if he hasn’t (as far as we know) advanced to real child pornography or sexual abuse of a child. He’s only been with the San Antonio Police Department for 2 years. It hasn’t been that long ago that he would have taken the psychological exam to get into the agency. How are people like this passing? I decided to look into what is actually quantified in the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) which is the test that is given to officers. I’ll spare you all the medical jargon but this quote from gives you a good idea, “It is primarily intended to test people who are suspected of having mental health or other clinical issues.”

In other words, this test really isn’t set-up to catch predators. While they may hit high on some indicators, the test isn’t designed to give a rating on things like pedophilia. While I wouldn’t throw the MMPI test out, it does have a lot of value, maybe it’s time for police agencies to look into whether there are any tests that profilers use, or can come up with, that would help weed out people like Officer Torres. It’s time someone took action to improve the vetting of officers. The current system is obviously failing us.

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