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A former principal of Pordenone Elementary School has pleaded guilty to child pornography charges before an Italian court, according to the Aviano public affairs office, which cited local press reports.

According to the press reports, Joe Wertheimer — principal of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools facility until the allegations came to light in June 2000 — was given an eight-month suspended sentence by the Pordenone court, the public affairs office said.

Wertheimer, 59, could not be reached for comment.

He was charged in the case after downloaded pictures of nude female minors were allegedly found on his home computer. He resigned from his position and left the country.

It is unclear whether he returned to Italy for the trial.

At the time, officials said there were no indications that he had acted inappropriately with any pupils. DODDS officials told local parents about the situation and sent additional counselors to the school.

Pordenone Elementary, along with Vajont Elementary School, served a few hundred pupils each year living in outlying communities surrounding Aviano Air Base. The schools closed at the end of the last school year when the new consolidated school opened on base.

DODDS-Europe spokesman Frank O’Gara said Wertheimer hasn’t worked for the school system since the allegations surfaced.

“The criminal investigation has taken its course and the Italian court has rendered a judgment,” O’Gara said.

“DODDS appreciates the efforts of military and host-nation law enforcement officials in bringing the case to justice.”

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