It's practically a requirement to love kids if you work on a show like Sesame Street. Fernando Rivas, age 59, loves them a little too much. The resident of Charleston, South Carolina was charged with the production, transportation and possession of child pornography.
Rivas is an intelligent person - that much is clear from his rÃ©sumÃ©. Educated at Julliard, Rivas' body of work includes 14 full-length musicals and the score for six movies. What's most shocking is that his steady stream of work seems to come from children's programming: Live5 WCSC reports that Rivas won two Emmy awards for his work on Sesame Street. He also won a Grammy award for his work on the "Elmopalooza" album, according to the New York Daily News. Rivas is also known for his work on the Disney Channel show "Handy Manny."
So what happened? Police searched Rivas' home on a lead derived from a child porn arrest in New Jersey. They found assorted images of a nude four-year-old girl on his computer. The girl was naked and in sexually suggestive positions. When asked about the images, Rivas admitted to police to taking the photos and sending them electronically to at least two others.
The Charleston Post and Courier reports that the Sesame Street composer pled not guilty to the charges and was released immediately after his hearing after posting 10 percent of a $300,000 bond. Rivas' attorney refused to comment on the charges against his client.
Beyond his connection to quality children's programming, it's scary to think that Rivas had regular access to children. He pioneered a jazz music program at the Porter-Gaud school and taught there from 2002 to 2009. Rivas taught upper school classes and was around high school students daily between those years. Officials aren't sure yet if his connection to the school and its students had anything to do with his lust for child porn.
It takes a sick individual to lust after children and an even sicker individual to act on those feelings. Certainly it's not a far cry to label Rivas as scum of the earth for producing and distributing kiddie porn. If Rivas indeed took the pornographic pictures of the poor four-year-old in question, what other acts has he committed that weren't documented on film? And what about the effects on his victim(s)?
A sole count of possession of child porn carries a maximum of ten years in South Carolina, never mind the other charges. In ten years, his victim will be 14 years old - certainly old enough to understand what happened to her. What will she feel if the pedophile who tormented her - a staff member of the beloved shows from her youth - is free to walk the streets again?