9 Suspect’s Face Variety of Child Porn Charges In Polk County Undercover Sting

Nine men, including a first-grade teacher, former animal control officer, Disney workers and a Publix worker have been arrested as part of a Polk County child pornography investigation.

Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrests at a news conference Thursday.

Search warrants were executed at several homes in the county, the Sheriff’s Office said in an operation it called “Operation Child Shield 3.”

A 64-year-old Kissimmee first-grade teacher was arrested after authorities seized computers from his home. He was charged with 35 counts of possession of child pornography, authorities said. Deputies claim the child porn depicted children as young as just a few months old.

The man has been suspended without pay.

As part of the sting, a Polk County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Officer was also arrested. The 31-year-old resigned from his job after his arrest.  

A 52-year-old Disney worker was also arrested as part of the sting on charges of possessing child porn depicting children between the ages of 8 and 11.

A 70-year-old man was charged with 36 counts of promotion of child pornography and two counts of possession of child pornography.

A 27-year-old faces four counts of possession of child pornography after his Lakeland home was searched and computer equipment seized. The man told police he was in the Navy from 2006-2011.

A Lakeland Publix bakery worker was charged with 100 counts of possession of child pornography. The Sheriff’s Office said 100 files depicting child pornography were found, with the youngest child victim about 18 months old.

A 44-year-old Disney worker faces 60 counts of child pornography charges after his home was searched in Auburndale. The youngest child victim in his case, according to the Sheriff’s Office, was about 1 year old. A 46-year-old Lakeland man is accused of having sexual conversations on Facebook with a 15-year-old Ohio girl. He apparently received nude photos of the girl, according to investigators. He was charged with one count each of possession of child pornography, use of computer to seduce a child and two-way communication device to commit felony.

A 53-year-old cleaning service owner in Bartow was charged with 65 counts of possession of child pornography after a search of his home and seizure of computer equipment.

If you are suspected of being in possession of child pornography, please know that local, state and even federal investigators will collect any evidence from your home, including your computer and other personal devices, and evaluate its contents. Once a thorough forensic analysis of data has been conducted, prosecutors will then determine what specific child pornography charges you will be charged with.

The following factors will help prosecutors decide what charges to go with:

  • The number of child porn images on your computer
  • The number of times you have visited websites that deal in child porn
  • The type of video or images
  • How often you have viewed images or videos of child porn
  • The nature of any chat room messages, emails, and text messages on your computer, including telephone conversations with undercover police officers

If you are accused of violating Florida’s child pornography laws, you face very harsh consequences. In addition to lengthy prison sentences and steep fines, those convicted of a child pornography crime are required to register as sex offenders. Our Florida Child Pornography Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you understand your rights and how to best defend yourself against these charges. Call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online for a free consultation.