Sheriff: Florida teacher faces 408 child porn charges

Associated Press

LAKELAND, Fla. (November 21, 2020) — A Florida high school teacher, soccer coach and church youth leader has been charged with 408 counts of child pornography possession, authorities said Saturday.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference that 46-year-old Shawn Fitzgerald possessed hundreds of pornographic images on his cellphone. Investigators were led to Fitzgerald by a tip from the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children.

Judd said it didn’t appear that the images were locally produced or that Fitzgerald had harmed any children himself. But Judd also said more charges are likely.

The images depict children as young as 10 months old being sexually abused by adults and engaging in acts with other children, the sheriff said.

Fitzgerald teaches at Lakeland High School and has coached the boy’s soccer team there since 2014. He is also the youth director at First United Methodist Church in Bartow.

It wasn’t clear Saturday if Fitzgerald has a lawyer. He was being held in the Polk County Jail on $2 million bail.

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