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

Top Stories

Local News

The scene of the South Jordan paraglider accident....
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Man flown to hospital in South Jordan skydiving accident

One man is in critical condition due to a skydiving accident on Saturday afternoon according to officials.
18 hours ago
SLCPD confiscated an air soft gun after reports of the suspect pointing a rifle at people. (Photo: ...
Michael Houck, KSK TV

Salt Lake City officers respond to person pointing rifle at people

Salt Lake City police responded to multiple calls of a person pointing a rifle at people Friday night, only to find it was an airsoft gun.
18 hours ago
Two men dead, three hospitalized after a North Ogden pursuit (Credit - North Ogden Police)...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Two dead, three hospitalized after a North Ogden pursuit

Two men are dead after fleeing from a traffic stop and crashing into a tree in North Ogden Saturday morning, according to North Ogden police.
18 hours ago
One of two Arthur V. Watkins Dam siphon pipes that will be replaced with a direct outlet pipe is vi...
Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News

‘Water is not going to magically appear,’ says Interior’s Tanya Trujillo

How money can help the West navigate the water supply issue of drought.
18 hours ago
Matt Rascon, KSL TV

Friends remember mom, tattoo artist shot and killed in Pleasant Grove

A mother who investigators say was shot and killed by her son in Pleasant Grove Thursday night was a beloved friend and tattoo artist who had just recently married.
2 days ago
(Davis County Sheriff's Office)...
Andrew Adams, KSL TV

Court documents: Man charged in Davis County stabbings ‘had fun’ and would do it again

A man accused of stabbing two women, including a Tinder match, told investigators he “had fun,” would do it again and had constructed a mask for “hunting people,” according to court documents.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
Ex-SLC school board member pleads guilty to child pornography charges