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Former Timberlane Middle School teacher Scott Buatti is expected to begin serving a two to four year prison sentence after his conviction was upheld on possession of child pornography. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/FILE PHOTO)

Ex-Timberlane Middle School teacher headed to state prison

BRENTWOOD — An ex-Timberlane middle school teacher is expected to be ordered to state prison for 2 to 4 years for possession of child pornography after losing a bid to have his 2011 conviction upended, Rockingham County Attorney James Reams said.

Scott Buatti, 45, had his conviction upheld after it was reviewed by a three-judge panel of the state Supreme Court, Reams said on Wednesday.

County prosecutors say they may now have to ask the judge who presided over Buatti's trial to impose the sentence.

Buatti was allowed to remain free on bail after a jury convicted him in Rockingham County Superior Court on 10 counts of possession of child pornography and 10 attempted possession of child pornography.

The former gym teacher taught at Timberlane Middle School for 19 years until his 2009 indictment prompted his resignation.

School officials later acknowledged they were told about the probe by federal investigators a year earlier, but allowed Buatti to stay in his job after a search of his school computer turned up no pornography.

An investigation by Immigrations Customs Enforcement dubbed &#';Operation Flicker&#'; tracked down 5,000 subscribers in the U.S. to child pornography web sites.

Buatti was first approached by investigators at his home on Feb. 25, 2008.

At trial, he denied ever viewing the pornography. But ICE agents testified that Buatti acknowledged he had looked and kept images of girls as young as 8 or 9 years old on his computer.

Judge Kenneth McHugh said he had no doubt that Buatti committed a crime once he chose to subscribe to web sites that contained child pornography and viewed the material.

Prosecutors had argued for a 5 to 10 year sentence for Buatti, saying that he never took responsibility for possessing child pornography. Buatti said when he was sentenced last year that he would, &#';accept the eventual outcome of the legal process without reservation.&#';

It's unclear exactly when he will be required to report to state prison.

jkimble@newstote.com

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