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Ex-Seton prof gets 15 years in prison

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Dr. Balazs Tarnai, former assistant professor of special education at Seton Hill University, was charged with possessing child pornography.

A former Seton Hill professor who pleaded guilty to producing child pornography will spend 15 years in prison and the rest of his life on probation, U.S. District Judge David Cercone ruled Wednesday.

Balazs Tarnai, 36, of Unity, admitted to ordering DVDs of child pornography from a Los Angeles-based mail-order company and to secretly recording four boys — ages 5, 10, 12 and 13 — while they were using two bathrooms in his home.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Lieber Smolar said police examined Tarnai's computer files and found thousands of images and videos of young boys engaged in sexual acts.

The police found 12 homemade videos and 26 pictures of the four boys on Tarnai's computer, she said.

Tarnai, a Hungarian national who was in the country on a work visa, was sentenced as part of a plea bargain. He was immediately suspended and was later fired by the university on Nov. 28, 2011.

According to Smolar, on Feb. 9, 2011, Tarnai, who lived alone, ordered a DVD and a free preview reel of child pornography online from a fictitious company set up by law enforcement officials as part of an undercover operation targeting individuals who previously purchased material considered child pornography.

The materials he purchased were described in a catalog as depicting young boys engaged in various acts of sexually explicit conduct, Smolar said.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, postal inspectors prepared a priority mail package containing two movies with sexually explicit content requiring signature confirmation from Tarnai, who had worked at the university in Greensburg since 2008.

Smolar said the package containing the DVDs was delivered to Tarnai in March at his residence by a postal inspector impersonating a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier.

A search warrant was immediately executed at the residence and the former professor's laptop computer and numerous DVDs and CDs were seized.

Smolar told Cercone that Tarnai admitted to investigators during questioning that day that the video “crossed the line.”

Brian Bowling and Paul Peirce are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Bowling can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com. Peirce can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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