Brendan Cohen secretly filmed more than 80 “upskirting” videos of students. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin
Brendan Cohen secretly filmed more than 80 “upskirting” videos of students. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Teacher caught photoshopping children into porn

A TEACHER used photos of more than 30 schoolgirls to create child pornography.

Media teacher Brendan Cohen pleaded guilty to two charges of making child pornography - where he superimposed the faces of children "he found attractive" onto adult images and videos - and five charges of upskirting.

The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard 36 children aged between 11 to 17 were identified in pornographic images and a video, where their faces had been "photoshopped" onto naked adult female bodies engaged in explicit poses or sexual activity.

Further victims' identities could not be established.

Brendan Cohen secretly filmed more than 80 “upskirting” videos of students. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin
Brendan Cohen secretly filmed more than 80 “upskirting” videos of students. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Police also discovered more than 80 upskirting videos, where Cohen covertly filmed students in classrooms, on the school grounds and with their mothers during parent teacher interviews.

The upskirting videos and pornographic images, created between 2015 and 2017, were discovered by police during searches at Bialik College and Mount Scopus Memorial College in May last year.

The searches at the independent Jewish schools in Melbourne's east were executed after a network engineer recovered an old hard drive purchased and used by Cohen at Bialik College.

Cohen, 52, had been a media teacher at Bialik College for 15 years before taking a job at Mount Scopus at the beginning of 2016.

Bialik College in Hawthorn was searched following the discovery of an old hard drive used by Cohen.
Bialik College in Hawthorn was searched following the discovery of an old hard drive used by Cohen.

Defence barrister Ian Hill, QC, told the Melbourne Magistrates' Court that prior to his arrest, Cohen "had rationalised his offending as harmless" because he wasn't disseminating or sharing the material.

"He also rationalised it because his victims were unaware what he had done," Mr Hill said.

But a student's victim impact statement proved otherwise.

"I was very upset in a person I trusted," the statement read.

She described experiencing initial shock that an image of her 15-year-old self had been "sexualised" by a teacher she had known since she was 12, and that she now experiences "levels of anxiety".

It included disturbed sleep and "heightened anxiety" around web cameras, which she had to use for her university studies.

Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg said "most" of the victim impact statements from seven other students "speak of the theft of their school years".

Mr Hill said Cohen had been seeing a psychologist since his arrest last year, and that he experienced a "paraphilic disorder".

But Magistrate Rozencwajg said, "I don't know if we can merely dismiss this by calling it an illness".

Mr Rozencwajg labelled the offending as "planned and prepared" and said "equipment had to be put in place".

"There's something fundamentally wrong in looking at your students in this fashion," he later added.

In an open letter read to the court, Cohen said he "allowed an obsession with pornography to cross over from fantasy to the real world" and wanted his victims to know he was "deeply regretful".

Cohen's bail was extended for sentencing at Melbourne Magistrates' Court on January 30.

ashley.argoon@news.com.au



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