An Ohio preschool teacher has been charged in connection with a child pornography case after investigators allegedly found sexually explicit images of her with her two children and a dog.
Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Gabe Wildman said Connie Ramirez, 43, of Austintown, Ohio, was arrested Aug. 22, on charges of rape, gross sexual imposition, pandering obscenity involving a minor, and possession of criminal tools.
Neither Ramirez nor an attorney representing her could be reached for comment Monday.
Authorities said Ramirez was a teacher at the TLCC Preschool and Day Care in Austintown. Ramirez worked at the preschool for about 12 years.
A cell phone belonging to Ramirez allegedly contained sexually explicit images and videos of her with her 8-year-old and 9-year-old daughters. Ramirez has admitted to investigators that she used rubbing ointment on at least one of her children for sexual stimulation, according to police.
Wildman said Ramirez is also being investigated for inappropriate sexual contact with a dog, allegedly baiting the animal with peanut butter and other household items.
Wildman said Ramirez's arrest resulted from an investigation into her boyfriend, 65-year-old William Brock Sr., of Niles. Ramirez had allegedly sent evidence of her illegal activities to Brock.
Brock, who Wildman said is known to identify himself to neighborhood children as "Santa Claus," was arrested on July 19. He is being held at the Trumbull County Jail on a $100,000 bond. Brock faces 25 charges of second-degree felony pandering and obscenity involving a minor. He has not yet been indicted.
"We went in with federal and state agents and seized child pornography from his house," Wildman said. "While my agents were looking through that stuff, they found stuff that relates to Ramirez."
Notification of Ramirez's arrest was upsetting to the director of the preschool where she worked.
"It absolutely floored me. I would never have suspected a thing. [She was] a model employee ... [She was] great with the children [and] parents loved her," TLCC Preschool Director Norma Johnson told WKBN News.
Johnson told the news station that Ramirez was never alone with any of the children at any time. No evidence has been recovered to date that would indicate any children at the preschool were involved in Ramirez's alleged activities, according to authorities.
Ramirez is being held on a $500,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
Wildman said additional charges may be filed in the case.
"We seized 10 to 15 electronic devices. It's an incredibly long and painstaking process to get through that ... As it is right now, we just started to scratch the surface of all this, and we have agents working around the clock," he said.