'Inappropriate' images found on murals of scandalized youth director, police say 

Murals created at San Francisco schools by a youth art program director now facing child porn charges contain “inappropriate” sexual images embedded within them, police alleged Friday.

Chief Greg Suhr said the Police Department was notified by the San Francisco Unified School District last week that some of the tiny, 1-inch tiles that make up murals made by Anthony Josef Norris had “offensive images” embedded within them. Police were informed June 15 of images found at a mural at Sunset Elementary School, he said.

Click on the picture at right for a gallery of images related to the murals, including a shot where a tile was removed.

“Those tiles have been removed and photographed” for evidence, Suhr said. Other suspect images have since been found at three other schools in The City, he said, but did not name the schools.

Suhr said police have to date inspected nearly 40 school murals, each of which contain tens of thousands of tiles.

Approximately 100 “inappropriate” tiles were found, Suhr said.

Police did not provide images of the tiles to the media, or discuss what specifically was deemed offensive.

“I think as an adult, you would look at these tiles and see, possibly, some sort of sexual connotation to them,” said police Cmdr. Mike Biel, who heads the department’s investigations division.

Biel said many of the tiles were embedded with images “like a negative of a photograph that is inlaid behind the clear tile itself.”

“They depict many things,” he said. “Some may be construed as offensive, some may not. And some of the tiles are actually drawings, so not all of them are actually photographs.”

Police did not say how many murals at San Francisco schools Norris was responsible for, but did indicate he had also done murals at schools in Mill Valley, San Rafael and Oakland. Those jurisdictions were also notified, police said.

The FBI announced June 2 that Norris, the founder and director of Kid Serve, a nonprofit providing art lessons for children, was charged with possession of child pornography. A federal complaint indicated that an FBI agent tracked child porn files posted on a website in July 2010 by someone using the handle “Spanky,” to Norris’ San Francisco home.

Norris, 46, allegedly admitted that his computer contained child pornography and that he had been collecting such images for years. The FBI said it found 7,500 files of “possible child pornography.”

The City has since suspended the services of the Kid Serve program, which received taxpayer funding to provide art instruction to kindergarteners through eighth-graders at an after-school program at John Muir Elementary School.

Richard Carranza, a deputy superintendent at the School District, said Friday that there was no evidence “that children were harmed in the development of these murals,” and that the district was cooperating with police in the investigation.

“We again want to emphasize to our parents and our community that children’s safety is first and foremost of paramount concern to the school district,” Carranza said.

Parents with concerns can contact the Safe Schools hotline at (415) 241-2141.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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