A former San Francisco public schools substitute teacher pleaded guilty to traveling to Vietnam for sex acts with boys as young as 11, court records show.
Paul Marshall Bodner, 65, who was employed by the San Francisco Unified School District until 2019, entered the plea Tuesday on three sex tourism charges, admitting that he traveled to the southeast Asia nation three times in 2015-16 for “illicit sexual conduct” with juvenile boys, The Mercury News reported.
An investigation into Bodner began in 2016 upon his return from a trip to Vietnam. Prosecutors said he later told federal authorities he was attracted to “young Asian boys,” but kept his job until 2019.
It’s unclear when district officials learned of the accusations and reps have not responded to earlier inquiries, the newspaper reported.
Bodner, who was arrested in February 2020, was indicted on three counts of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places for alleged sex acts with the boys as young as 11 or 12 at a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, federal prosecutors said.
A Homeland Security Investigations agent said at the time that Bodner’s actions of targeting “innocent children” across the globe were “reprehensible.”
“Homeland Security Investigations will work with our foreign law enforcement partners to relentlessly pursue anyone involved in criminal behavior against children,” HSI San Francisco Special Agent in Charge Tatum King said in a statement.
Bodner was hired by San Francisco schools in 1985 and left four years later upon moving to Japan. He was then rehired as a substitute teacher in 1999, The Mercury News reported.
Prosecutors alleged he had been accused of sexual impropriety several times, but still stayed employed for decades, according to the report.
San Francisco police found a video showing him “performing sexual acts on Asian males of a questionable age” in 2004, according to a motion filed last year, but no charges were filed and Bodner kept teaching.
US Customs and Border Patrol agents then searched Bodner’s luggage when he returned from Vietnam in 2016 and allegedly found “pictures of partially clothed young boys, condoms, and a diary containing locations of what appeared to be children’s playgrounds,” prosecutors said.
Bodner proceeded to then allegedly contact his purported victims in Vietnam via social media in January 2017, The Mercury News reported.
“Soon I will ask our friend to pray and pray hard to realize I did not have sexual relationships with anyone before they were 18,” Bodner allegedly wrote. “When I know they give me my phone back, I can give out a lot of money to celebrate.”
Bodner told federal authorities he paid boys, allegedly wiring them thousands of dollars, because he felt sorry for them – and not for sex, according to a prosecutor’s motion.
Attorneys for Bodner, meanwhile, had requested that he be released from the Santa Rita Jail in California in April 2020, citing medical conditions, including a sexually transmitted disease. The motion was denied, the newspaper reported.
“Mr. Bodner is a long-time Bay Area resident with a strong history of employment,” his attorneys wrote. “He has maintained his residence at the same one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco for the past 22 years and has no prior record of criminal or violent behavior.”
Bodner faces up to 30 years in federal prison. He’s reportedly due to be sentenced in September.