WASHINGTON — A private school teacher in Washington who was captured in Nicaragua after a year on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" fugitives list has written the judge overseeing his child pornography case, saying he plans to spend the rest of his life "doing penance."
Eric Justin Toth wrote the two-page letter as part of a set of documents that were submitted to the judge ahead of his sentencing, which is scheduled for March 11. The documents, which were filed Monday in federal court in Washington, include a recommendation from Toth's lawyer that he spend 22 years in prison. That's the low end of a recommended sentencing range agreed to by Toth as part of a guilty plea last year.
Toth's lawyer wrote he has no criminal record, a history of psychological problems including depression and that when he was in high school he was sexually abused by a teacher.
A prosecutor asked that Toth be sentenced to 30 years in prison. Both lawyers agreed that after prison he should spend a lifetime on supervised release.
Toth fled Washington in 2008 after images of child pornography were found on a camera he had used while a teacher at Beauvoir, a private elementary school located on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral. The FBI added Toth to its Most Wanted list in 2012, where he filled a vacancy created by Osama bin Laden's death.
Toth, who was captured last year in Nicaragua after five years on the run, told the judge in his letter that he hopes to spend his time in prison "as productively as possible," including participating in a program to train seeing eye dogs. Toth's lawyers wrote that he would like to serve his sentence at a New Jersey prison that has a program to train the dogs.
Toth acknowledged in his letter that he knew by age 13 that he was attracted to young boys.
"I knew society considered people like me monsters, so I swore myself to secrecy," he wrote.
He also apologized for his actions.
"For years, my brain manufactured one justification after another for giving into my sexual urges. In more recent years, I've worked hard to change that and continue to work on it in prison. In my heart of hearts, I've always known my urges are dangerous," he wrote.
Toth ended his letter by saying he will "commit the rest of my life to doing penance, to kindness and decency, and to honest and perpetual accountability."
Toth pleaded guilty in December to three counts of producing child pornography, identity theft and misuse of a Social Security number. He acknowledged that in 2005, while working as a counselor at a Wisconsin, he took photographs and videos of a sleeping male camper.
In 2006, after he began working as a third-grade teacher at Beauvoir, he took pictures and videos of one student. He also installed a hidden video camera disguised as an air freshener in a school bathroom. The camera captured 15 children using the bathroom.
Toth was escorted off Beauvoir's campus in June 2008 after school administrators found images of child pornography on a school camera he used. A media card containing more images was found at the school soon after, but Toth fled before police could arrest him. He spent time in Texas and Arizona before authorities caught him in Nicaragua.
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