Manhattan Beach crossing guard arrested in child pornography raid

A Redondo Beach man who worked as a crossing guard in Manhattan Beach was arrested Thursday on suspicion of possessing hundreds of pornographic images of children on his computer.

Robert Anthony Portillo, 29, was arrested after a police task force served a search warrant at a house he shared with his mother in the 2300 block of Clark Lane, said Los Angeles police Detective Gil Escontrias of the Los Angeles Regional Internet Crimes Against Children task force.

Police declined to disclose what devices or computers investigators removed from Portillo’s home, but they examined some in a mobile laboratory at the scene.

“Each device could yield thousands of images,” Escontrias said.

Investigators went to Portillo’s residence following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Officers arrested Portillo on suspicion of possessing more than 600 images of child pornography. Police described the images as young and prepubescent children.

Portillo was booked at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Detention Center jail.

“That worries us that he’s a school crossing guard,” Los Angeles police Lt. Andrea Grossman said.

Police confirmed that Portillo worked as a crossing guard in Manhattan Beach, but other details — including where he was stationed — were not available.

In September, the Manhattan Beach City Council renewed its contract with All City Management Services to provide its crossing guard program. The company, which has provided crossing guards in the city since 2007, was described in a city staff report as the largest provider in the area, employing 3,500 guards and serving more than 150 agencies.

All City Management Services officials could not be reached early Thursday evening.

Portillo was the latest arrest for the regional task force led by the LAPD, but involving dozens of investigators from federal and local agencies.

On Saturday, acting on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, ICAC investigators arrested 61-year-old Thomas Lee Lowry during a raid at his home in the 20900 block of Brighton Avenue in Harbor Gateway.

The District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday charged Lowry with felony counts of sending or bringing obscene matter into the state for sale, and possession of more than 600 images of youth or child pornography.

Lowry was scheduled to appear in court in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Details of what occurred were not immediately available.

Also arrested Saturday following a tip was Nicholas Peter Demaria, 63, of Long Beach. He was held on suspicion of possession of more than 600 images of child pornography, police said.

On Wednesday, Daniel T. O’Connell, 32, a teacher at Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro, pleaded not guilty to felony counts of possession of youth or child pornography, contact with a minor for a sex offense and using a minor for sex acts, prosecutors said.

The ICAC task force arrested O’Connell, 32, on Jan. 10 at his Rancho Palos Verdes residence.

Police said investigators acted on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that O’Connell made inappropriate contact with minors he met while on a mathematics tutoring website.

O’Connell was a long-term substitute teacher at Mary Star. He taught physics.

The charges allege that, from May 2016 to last month, O’Connell had contact with a 16-year-old girl he met online, prosecutors said.