Teacher from Cebu arrested in 2018 jailed again in US for child porn

By: Rosalie Abatayo November 11,2019 - 07:38 AM

Rodymar Lelis (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe County Sheriff Office as posted in KOB 4)

Cebu City, Philippines—Remember the Cebu City public school teacher who was arrested for allegedly making sexual advances on a 14-year-old athlete during the Palarong Pambansa in Vigan, Ilocos Sur in April 2018?

Read: FIRE THE TEACHER

Well, he is behind bars again, this time in New Mexico in the United States.

Rodymar Lelis, 29, a former teacher at the Zapatera Integrated School in Barangay Zapatera in Cebu City, was jailed for alleged possession and sharing of pornographic videos of children.

According to a news release of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Lelis is facing a criminal complaint for “accessing videos containing child pornography from his room in a local hotel on September 7, 2019.”

According to an ICE report, Lelis had a J-1 non-immigrant visa, which is issued to foreign nationals who are involved in cultural and educational exchange programs.

HSI agents arrested Lelis in his home in Española, New Mexico last November 5, 2019, after a two-month investigation, and is detained at the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility.

He was charged for possession of child pornography before the federal court on Wednesday, November 6.

“HSI special agents, assigned to the Albuquerque office, conducted an investigation with assistance from HSI Manila and the Bureau of Indian Affairs,” the ICE HSI news release reads.

“Child exploitation is a heinous crime, and these investigations are one of HSI’s highest priorities. We plan to continue working with our federal, state and local partners to identify, arrest and prosecute child predators to hold them accountable for their reprehensible crimes,” the news release posted at the ICE website quoted HSI Special Agent Jack P. Staton.

If convicted, Lelis will face a 20-year jail time in Federal prison.

Lelis was teaching at La Tierra Montessori School of the Arts and Sciences (LTMAS), a public elementary school in Española.

KOB 4, a US television network, reported that Lelis began teaching at the school late September 2019 and has been fired following the arrest.

KOB 4 also quoted LTMAS saying Lelis passed a background check prior to his employment, where he handled 5th and 6th-grade classes.

In April 2018, Lelis was arrested in Vigan, Ilocos Sur in the Philippines for allegedly making sexual advances on an athlete from Region 3 during the Palarong Pambansa.

The victim, who was a dancesport contestant, claimed he was molested by Lelis in Caoayan town, which served as one of the venues of the sports meet, on the evening of April 17, 2018.

The victim said that Lelis kissed his neck and shoulder and forcibly hugged him inside a comfort room at the venue and offered him money to have sex with him.

A closed-circuit television (CCTV) confirmed that Lelis was in the comfort room with the boy but the alleged sexual advancement was not caught on cam. Another minor, however, testified against Lelis.

Lelis, who was a special education teacher at the Zapatera Integrated School in Barangay Zapatera, Cebu City, was not part of the Central Visayas delegation during that sports meet. He flew alone to Vigan to witness the games.

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