A primary school teacher who posed online as a teenage girl to lure young students into sending him sexually explicit content is facing years behind bars after pleading guilty to an array of child sex offences.

Timothy Patrick Cordova, 28, faced the County Court of Victoria on Tuesday, where it was revealed he also used his school’s database to access official images of students – some of them from swimming carnivals – to create his own collages.

More than 5600 child abuse images and 16 collages were discovered by police during a search of his home. In some, Cordova had superimposed the faces of children onto sexually explicit images of others.

On Tuesday, Cordova pleaded guilty to 17 offences relating to the solicitation and production of child abuse material involving 14 victims, nine of them students from the school where he taught.

Crown prosecutor Krista Breckweg urged the judge to impose a prison sentence of at least three years and labelled the offending prolific, targeted and planned.

“These aren’t just children that he doesn’t know,” she said. “They’ve been deliberately selected.”

Cordova created four fake social media profiles to communicate with his victims, mostly purporting to be a 14-year-old girl named “Matilda Roberts”.

He then solicited material from his victims, in some cases instructing the young person on what to do, while sending child abuse images back to gain their trust and persuade them he was a teenage girl.

During his police interview, Cordova initially told investigators he created the fake profiles because he wanted to “get lesbians” and had never had a girlfriend.

He said he knew it seemed off but he was looking to meet people of legal age and had plucked the name Matilda out of “thin air”.

One victim told the court he now lived with social anxiety, with the “heinous” crimes leaving him questioning who he could trust. “It’s a daily struggle to wake up,” he said.

The mother of another child victim wrote of the sadness she felt knowing her intelligent and motivated son now lived with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

“As a mother, this angers me that his trusting nature has been violated and his privacy breached. I’m constantly worried about … his wellbeing and what the future hold for him,” she said in a victim impact statement submitted to the court.

Cordova’s uncle, a former police officer, said his nephew was ashamed of what he had done. A psychologist had since diagnosed Cordova with social anxiety disorder.

Defence barrister Penny Marcou noted Cordova was a first-time offender and would never work in teaching again.

Cordova, who has been on bail, was remanded in custody to be sentenced on Friday.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Kidshelpline on 1800 55 1800.

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