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More than a year after being arrested for receiving and possessing child pornography, Yale Geology Professor Antonio Lasaga pleaded guilty on Friday to the charges against him. Lasaga, who has been on leave from the professorship since his arrest in November 1998, admitted to receiving tens of thousands of images of child pornography on his computer and possessing two videocassettes of a child engaged in sexual acts. The professor agreed to plead guilty to two of the federal charges filed against him in exchange for five other charges being dropped. Lasaga has been the subject of investigation since the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized pornographic pictures of children in 1998 from his on-campus apartment in the college house where he was the faculty master. Lasaga, 50, was to be tried this week in U.S. District Court. "We find it distressing that these crimes were committed by a member of our community," Yale spokesman Lawrence Haas said. "The university will be taking appropriate action at the appropriate time." Under federal sentencing guidelines, the plea agreement recommends that Lasaga be sentenced to a jail term of 135 to 168 months -- about 11 to 14 years -- and pay a $17,500 to $175,000 fine, the Yale Daily News said. U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson will sentence Lasaga on May 8, after the U.S. Probation Office has prepared a pre-sentencing report. The judge could sentence Lasaga up to 20 years in jail and a maximum fine of $500,000. Lasaga's attorney, William Dow, would not speculate as to what the sentence would be. "Professor Lasaga has acknowledged his wrongdoing. His fate is now in the hands of the court," Dow said in a written statement after the plea was entered. In addition to the federal charges, Lasaga faces state charges, including first-degree sexual assault and the promotion of an obscene performance, in reference to the videotapes. Under the agreement, Lasaga must undergo a polygraph test to verify that he no longer possesses any child pornography. Federal agents determined that Lasaga had been using an Internet portal site since 1996 to download child pornography. In his written statement, Dow said Lasaga's situation "teaches us once again that even the most accomplished of us cannot escape the experiences of our youth." Because Lasaga waived his right to further appeals in the federal case by pleading guilty, he will have to accept whatever sentence Thompson gives him in May.

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