Friday, December 7, 2012

Sesame Street composer, former Porter-Gaud teacher Rivas pleads guilty to child porn charges

Rivas served as part-time instructor at Porter Gaud from 2002–2009

Posted by Sam Spence on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 1:22 PM

click to enlarge Fernando Rivas - KAITLYN ISERMAN FILE PHOTO

Cuban-born composer Fernando Rivas, who wrote music for children's TV including Sesame Street, entered a guilty plea on charges of making, possessing, and distributing child pornography on December 6, federal court documents show.

Rivas had initially entered a plea of not guilty when he was arrested following an April 2011 raid of his Ladson home that turned up illegal photos on his computer, some of which had been linked to an earlier arrest in New Jersey. The composer had been on house arrest since November of last year as a condition of his bond.

Upon moving to Charleston in 1998 from Miami, where he grew up with his mother after fleeing Castro-led Cuba at the age of 9, Rivas served as a part-time high school jazz instructor at Porter Gaud from 2002—2009, when he left the school due to "increasing work outside of his school obligations." The private prep school said earlier this year that they were unaware of any connection between the charges and school, but were cooperating with the investigation.

During his career, the Julliard-educated Rivas became known as one of the leading composers for child-oriented TV programming. Names like Gloria Estefan, Cindy Lauper, Darius Rucker, Disney, and the Childrens Television Workshop dot an impressive resume that includes Emmy nominations and a shared Grammy for work on a project for Sesame Street. In a 2009 interview with the City Paper, he spoke of even higher ambitions, "I'm especially keen on breaking into the ranks of major film composers."

Rivas was set to be a Spoleto correspondent for the City Paper in 2011, but pulled out at the last minute right around the time when FBI agents and North Charleston police raided his home.

Rivas' last project of note was for the Emmy-nominated Disney Channel show, Handy Manny in 2010.

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