Sesame Street composer faces child porn charges 

Fernando Rivas also won an Emmy for Handy Manny

Fernando Rivas, a local composer who wrote songs for Sesame Street and the Disney channel show Handy Manny, was arraigned in federal court today on three separate child pornography charges.

Rivas, 59, pleaded not guilty to allegations that he produced child pornography, possessed child porn, and transported the images through a computer in April. According to a Post and Courier report, Rivas is alleged to have coerced a child "to engage in sexually explicit conduct" for the purpose of producing porn. His bond was set at $300,000, and he posted the 10 percent necessary to be released on house arrest.

While the details of the charges are still sketchy, it is known that Rivas spent time around children in recent years. He was a part-time jazz instructor at Porter-Gaud School from 2002 to 2009, teaching in the Upper School for grades 9 through 12. According to a statement from the school, he resigned from the position 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.

A search of employment records conducted by Charleston County School District came up with no matches to Rivas' name, although electronic records only go back to 2001. Rivas, who composed music and wrote commercial jingles in New York City, moved to Charleston in 1998.

Rivas occasionally wrote about opera and classical music for City Paper. He was slated to work for the paper during Spoleto Festival 2011, but he backed out at the last minute — right around the time he is charged with transporting the pornographic images in April.

A graduate of the elite Juilliard School, Rivas has written or co-written 14 musicals, scored six full-length feature films, and won two Emmys and a Grammy for his work in children's music. In 2003, he wrote the score for a documentary about the 200-year history of the Post and Courier.


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