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Cambridge teacher faces child pornography charges

A Cambridge fifth-grade teacher is facing child pornography charges after he allegedly used hidden cameras to film students in states of undress, the US attorney’s office said.

Josh Wairi, 27, of Somerville, was arrested Thursday for also allegedly using his e-mail account to trade child pornography.

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In addition to filming students, Wairi allegedly uploaded images of children being sexually exploited, including videos, and provided the content to others.

A teacher at Graham & Parks Elementary School, Wairi is charged with the transportation of child pornography, according to the office of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

Wairi appeared in federal court in Boston Thursday and is being held without bail until his probable cause hearing on Wednesday, Ortiz’s office said.

Jeffrey Young, superintendent of the Cambridge public schools, said at a news conference that Wairi was placed on administrative leave immediately after the charges came to school officials’ attention on Thursday.

“We are shocked and distressed when something of this nature occurs,” Young said.

Several community meetings are being scheduled in the next two weeks to allow residents to “process their feelings of shock, anger, and betrayal,” he said.

A lawyer for Wairi, Christopher Skinner, could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Wairi allegedly admitted that he used hidden cameras in a locker room to film students undressing and said he posted a Craigslist advertisement volunteering baby-sitting services, according to documents filed in court.

Young said that officials do not know if video was recorded at any Cambridge school or other facility, but that the authorities are investigating.

Also Thursday, Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said in a news release that officials have confirmed Wairi was a student teacher at John F. Kennedy School during the 2008-09 school year and worked in Somerville at Arthur D. Healy school as a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, and as a fifth-grade teacher during the 2011-12 school year.

“As representatives of the City of Somerville, we have directed all city agencies and departments to deploy their resources around this issue, and we have reached out to our county, state, and federal partners for additional resources and aid,” Curtatone said.

An unnamed acquaintance listed in the criminal complaint told investigators that Wairi’s Beacon Street apartment in Somerville was above a day-care center.

Following an investigation tracking e-mails that traded videos of child pornography, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Wairi’s residence on Thursday morning, authorities said.

The criminal complaint against Wairi alleges that, in a conversation with law enforcement, he admitted to using his personal computer to view child pornography and estimated that he possessed hundreds of images and videos of child pornography.

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Jennifer Smith can be reached at jennifer.smith@globe.com.
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