Goleta Man Facing Multiple Felony Charges of Molestation, Child Porn

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor

A Goleta man is facing multiple felony charges of child molestation and child pornography after being arrested Tuesday by investigators with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Zachary A. Warburg
Zachary A. Warburg (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

Zachary A. Warburg, 28, was booked into County Jail, where he was being held Wednesday in lieu of $1 million bail.

The 24-count criminal complaint against Warburg includes 16 felonies and eight misdemeanor charges, according to Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian, who is prosecuting the case.

The allegations include lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 14 years old, annoying or molesting a child under 18 years old, possession or control of child pornography, attempted sexual penetration with a foreign object, contacting a minor with intent to commit a sexual offense, and attempting to dissuade a victim or witness.

The alleged offenses occurred mainly in the spring of 2018, although some allegations date back to 2015, according to the complaint.

The alleged victims ranged in age from 11 to 17 years old, the complaint states.

A software developer, Warburg also worked as a freelance photographer, shooting breaking news such as fires and vehicle crashes. His photos of those incidents often appeared on Noozhawk prior to May 2018.

The investigation in the case began months ago after a school resource deputy at San Marcos High School was notified by a student that Warburg was “attempting inappropriate communications with her of a sexual nature,” according to sheriff’s Lt. Erik Raney.

He said investigators uncovered several instances of criminal behavior between Warburg and minor female students at local area high schools and junior highs, as well as out of the area.

“The investigation revealed numerous victims, and a pattern of alleged criminal behavior where Warburg contacted under-aged and minor females, either in person or through various social media platforms,” Raney said.

“Warburg would then solicit illegal sexual acts, or solicit or send illegal sexually explicit images.”

Warrant searches also revealed Warburg was in possession of child pornography, Raney added.

If convicted, Warburg would be required to register as a sex offender, according to the complaint.

Warburg was scheduled to appear for arraignment Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Clifford Anderson.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at tbolton@noozhawk.com.