lakeland high school teacher busted child porn

’10-Months Old To Teenagers’ Lakeland High School Teacher Charged, 408-Counts of Child Porn

LAKELAND, Fla. – Detectives from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested 46-year-old Shawn Fitzgerald, a Lakeland High School teacher on Friday, November 20, 2020, and charged him with 408 counts of possessing child pornography (F2).  Fitzgerald, a Lakeland resident, also serves as the varsity soccer coach for Lakeland High School and a Youth Director at First United Methodist Church in Bartow.

“Did you hear me? We arrested him and charged him with four hundred and eight counts of child pornography, and we’re still early into the investigation,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

The investigation began after the Sheriff’s Office received a report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a private, non-profit organization that provides information to law enforcement from Electronic Service Providers. The report revealed that the KIK Messenger app was used to upload a video depicting child pornography on February 20, 2020.

The 20-second video showed a young female (approximately 10-12 years old) performing oral sex on an apparent adult male.

On Thursday, November 19, 2020, detectives from the PCSO Computer Crimes Unit served a search warrant at Fitzgerald’s residence. A search of Fitzgerald’s cell phone led to the discovery of a “Calculator Vault” app, an application that is designed to look like a calculator, but has the capability to hide saved images. Fitzgerald told a detective that he used the app to store images from an extramarital affair.

Judd said they were investigating and checking to see whether or not Fitzgerlad is a sexual predator, “Research shows us that 85% of the people that are caught with child pornography either had or would have illegal sexual relations with a child given the opportunity.”

Judd said that the photos that Fitzgerald had, were hidden in a ‘vault-app’ which was password protected on his phone. Investigators were able to unlock that app and discovered the photos. Judd described horrific acts including everything from children as young as 10-months-old involved in sexual acts, up to young teenagers.

“An arrest like this shakes the entire community. A man entrusted with the education and guidance of so many children, working closely with them, and betraying that trust in such a heinous way. Sadly, people who possess child pornography are out there, all over the world. But making these kinds of arrests are not rare in Polk County, due to the diligent work of the PCSO Computer Crimes Unit,” said Judd.

Judd added that investigators are only about 50%-60% through the investigation and expect more charges to brought.

Fitzgerald is being held in the Polk County Jail on $2,000,000 bond,

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