BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — A former City Honors teacher will soon learn how long he’ll be spending in prison on child pornography charges. 62-year-old Peter Hingston pleaded guilty in 2021 to child pornography — and is being sentenced on Monday.
“Mr. Hingston is a pedophile. Point blank, period. he is. I don’t know why that’s being argued. He only targeted children and he deserves the maximum sentence,” said Evelyn Parker who’s a senior at City Honors High School.
Parker was a student in Hingston’s class and says she would often witness strange behavior and constantly heard rumors.
“There was always rumors of him being inappropriate and creepy and to have those be confirmed was really heartbreaking, my trust was completely betrayed and broken,” she said. “I still have trouble communicating and having male teachers.”
In 2019 Buffalo police investigated allegations against Hingston. During their investigation, they found out he had taken photos and videos of female students with a GoPro camera.
According to court documents, he also attempted to “involve five minor female students, under his custody and control, in sexually explicit conduct.”
“He would have the trust of a lot of students. A lot of kids would go to his room during lunch,” former student Bella Zionts said. “Maybe they didn’t feel comfortable there, and he created this sort of safe space in his classroom that we learned was exactly the opposite of that.”
Hingston’s defense is seeking seven years behind bars, but former students say that’s not enough.
“7 years is an insult to the victims of this man and his crimes,” said Patrick Swain, who graduated City Honors. “I was likely walking past his victims in the hallways every single day over the 7 years that I studied at City Honors and many of them knew, but what scares me more is that an unknown amount of them probably don’t know that they were abused.”
Patrick Swain started an online petition seeking the community’s support as they demand justice for the victims.
“We are looking for something other than a low ball sentence,” he said. “Something that isn’t a punch in the face to some many people who have suffered at the hands of Mr. Hingston.”
“I think there’s a lot of healing to do after this and I think that on the flip side, we’re looking at the maximum, [but] if he gets the minimum, what is that going to say about who this judge and who this community values?” Zionts asked. “Do we value a 62-year-old pedophile? Who was a teacher and used that power to abuse minors? Or do we value hundreds of young girls?”
“I absolutely believe 1000 percent that every single day that man is out in the public after he’s let out of prison he will hurt people,” said Lynn King, who’s Parker’s mom. “He will hurt kids, he will absolutely re-offend. He’s not interested in stopping. He has no remorse. The longer he is in prison the fewer kids he can hurt.”
The federal government is seeking a sentence of 17 to 20 years in prison.
Hingston will be back in court for his sentencing Monday morning.
Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.