A local composer whose resume lists ties to to Gloria Estefan, Cyndi Lauper and "Sesame Street" was arraigned in federal court today on three child pornography charges.
Fernando Rivas, 59, entered a not guilty plea. A judge set his bond at $300,000, and he posted the 10 percent required for release immediately following the hearing.
A grand jury indictment charges Rivas with production of child pornography, transportation of child pornography and possession of child pornography. It alleges that he induced a child "to engage in sexually explicit conduct," including exposing the child's genitals, "for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct" and that Rivas transported those images through a computer in April.
North Charleston police officers helped FBI agents with search warrant of his home on Falling Embers Lane on April 19. There, according to court records, investigators found photographs of a 4-year-old girl naked and "restrained in handcuffs and other bondage type devices."
Records from that search say that investigators read Rivas his rights and that he admitted to taking the photographs and using handcuffs to restrain the little girl. The records say Rivas also admitted to sending the pictures to two other people by email.
Rivas, whose mother fled Castro-governed Cuba with her son when he was 9, composed music for 27 years in New York. He graduated from the prestigious Juilliard School and wrote songs for "Sesame Street" and jingles for major corporations.
He moved to Charleston in 1998 and started a jazz program at Porter-Gaud School. He taught in the Upper School there from 2002 to 2009, according to Porter-Gaud officials. They released a statement Monday saying that Rivas resigned "due to increasing work outside of his school obligations."
"We are unaware of any connection between the charges against him and Porter-Gaud, but we are cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation," the statement said.
Reached after the arraignment hearing, Rivas' attorney David McCann declined to comment.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant set terms for Rivas' bond, including home detention with electronic monitoring, no internet access and no access to children without an adult present who knows the charges against him.