Ex-SLC school board member pleads guilty to child pornography charges

Jan 18, 2022, 2:00 PM | Updated: 2:05 pm

FILE: Joel Lehi Organista, 29. (Salt Lake City School District)...

FILE: Joel Lehi Organista, 29. (Salt Lake City School District)

(Salt Lake City School District)

SALT LAKE CITY — A former member of the Salt Lake City School District Board of Education has pleaded guilty to two felony counts related to the production and transportation of child pornography in federal court.

Authorities said 29-year-old Joel Lehi Organista, of Salt Lake City, entered the guilty plea agreement on Jan. 10.

Organista was previously charged in Utah’s Third District Court with nine second-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of object rape of a child and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, both first-degree felonies.

These state charges were dropped in November in exchange for his guilty pleas, and he was sentenced on Tuesday to a term of 15 years to life in prison for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, a first-degree felony, and a term of one to 15 years for enticing a minor over internet or text, a second-degree felony.

In the federal plea agreement, “Organista admitted to owning a Dropbox account which was used for downloading between 10 and 150 images of prepubescent minors,” according to a release from the Department of Justice.

Organista also admitted to using Snapchat to contact minor children and soliciting them to perform sexual acts for him via video chat, including an incident where a 13-year-old victim performed sexual acts for Organista via video chat.

Police previously said Organista “(was) clearly notified of the ages of the children and (asked) for naked photographs and (directed) the children to do sexual acts.”

Organista resigned from the SLCSD board on June 4, one day after his arrest. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors plan to recommend a sentence of 15 years in federal prison at a hearing in May.

A Utah judge recommended penalties from state charges will run concurrently with any federal charges.

“Organista also faces a maximum possible sentence of a lifetime of supervised release after his term of incarceration is served and he will be required to register as a sex offender,” DOJ officials said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The owners of WaterCreek Nails and Spa said a break-in resulted in thousands of dollars worth of da...

Shelby Lofton

Downtown nail spa broken into, hate speech spray-painted on the wall

The owners of WaterCreek Nails and Spa said a break-in resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage, but the hate speech left behind made the situation worse.

49 minutes ago

A Utah Highway Patrol vehicle in Salt Lake City is pictured on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Deseret Ne...

Mark Jones

UHP trooper injured in collision with alleged DUI driver

The Utah Highway Patrol says a 24-year-old man was taken into custody early Saturday morning after he was allegedly driving more than 100 mph and attempted to elude authorities.

3 hours ago

City officials in Eagle Mountain say a family of nine has been displaced following a house fire Sun...

Mark Jones

Eagle Mountain family safely escapes house fire, crews prevent home from being total loss

City officials in Eagle Mountain say a family of nine has been displaced following a house fire Sunday afternoon.

6 hours ago

Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Jeffrey R. Holland (center) records a histor...

Tad Walch, Deseret News

‘I’m planning on eternity’: President Holland rededicates historic St. George Utah Temple

President Jeffrey R. Holland rededicated the St. George Utah Temple, the oldest operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after a major renovation.

7 hours ago

Viktoria Tibbitts, center, with her sister and mom. A fundraiser was held Sunday for Viktoria, who ...

Brianna Chavez

Dozens show up to Riverdale Denny’s to support employee hit by truck

A busy Sunday is meant to be expected, but this Sunday's workday was much more meaningful for employees at the Denny's on Riverdale Road.

7 hours ago

Lloyd D. Newell, the announcer and writer of the weekly Music & the Spoken Word broadcast for the p...

Devin Oldroyd

Lloyd Newell announces departure from ‘Music & the Spoken Word’

After 34 years, Lloyd Newell, host of the Tabernacle Choir’s “Music & the Spoken Word”, announced he is concluding his service next year.

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Ex-SLC school board member pleads guilty to child pornography charges