'Chilling, heartbreaking:' Bellevue teacher charged with molestation, distribution of child pornography

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- A high school teacher in Bellevue was charged Friday for sexual abuse of a child and child pornography possession and distribution, in a case so egregious, prosecutors struggled to describe it.

Stuart Hoffman is a teacher at Newport Senior High School in Bellevue, and now he's also an accused child rapist who allegedly documented his continuous abuse and shared it online. According to court documents, his victim is not one of his high school students. It's a child much younger.

"Shocked, horrified, angry and upset are natural feelings when we hear something like this and I think particularly people in trusted positions like a teacher we really have higher expectations obviously," says Mary Ellen Stone, the executive director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.

Shock and anger are evident in the court documents rush filed today by King County prosecutors: "the facts of this case are extreme even for crimes of sexual violence against children...the defendant held a position of trust which provided him access to the minor victim," and "the scope of this criminal case cannot be understated."

Most of what is said in the documents is too disturbing to share.

The investigation, led by the Department of Homeland Security all began as an international child pornography investigation. Busting someone in the United Kingdom for child porn allegedly traced back to Hoffman and his victim in Bellevue. Some of the key evidence investigators have, according to the documents are emails between Hoffman and the man in the UK. Prosecutors describe one in which the defendant clearly admits to the abuse and recording it, and complained about the pandemic making it harder to have access to the victim.

"With children, in this case, elementary school-aged children, it's going to be an adult who has some connection and ongoing relationship with them most of the time so while this is like the worst thing we want to think about, it's probably also the most likely kind of situation," says Mary Ellen.

She says while the thought is very hard to process, it's the reality, and it's so important that parents talk to their children about what is appropriate touching and what isn't, and explain what to do if the inappropriate touching occurs.

Prosecutors describe the interviews with the young victim and "heartbreaking" and "chilling." Documents note that in addition to the state charges, federal charges are likely. They requested Hoffman be held on one million dollars bail. Bellevue Schools District says Hoffman has been placed on administrative leave. The district says they are cooperating fully and are "deeply concerned if these allegations are true."

"The more we talk about it, the more likely it is that we can spot these things more quickly and change the culture around it," says Mary Ellen.

The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center has a 24 hour hotline, (888)-998-6423. The Department of Homeland Security also encourages you to report any suspected child exploration to the 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.