Florida high school special needs teacher faces 408 child porn charges

November 22, 2020 

A Florida high school teacher, soccer coach and church youth leader is facing 408 counts of child pornography possession, according to authorities.

Shawn Fitzgerald, 46, was allegedly busted with hundreds of illegal images of children involved in sexual activity on his phone, Polk County Sheriff Gray Judd said Saturday.

The images show infants as young as 10 months old and children being sexually abused by adults and engaging in acts with other kids, police say.

It does not appear that Fitzgerald produced the images or harmed any children personally, Judd said, but officials say he is likely to face additional charges.

Police arrested Fitzgerald Friday after being tipped off by the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children.

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

“We are shocked and disgusted by these charges. As educators, we are entrusted with the well-being of our young people every day. It is our sacred duty to set the highest moral example in our schools and our communities,” said Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd in a statement to local television station WFLA.

“We are cooperating fully with the investigation to ensure justice is served, and we are in the process of terminating this employee.”

Fitzgerald’s church said, “We are saddened to learn of the arrest of Shawn Fitzgerald, youth director at First UMC, Bartow. Upon notification of his arrest, he was placed on unpaid administrative leave. We have no knowledge of any inappropriate conduct by Mr. Fitzgerald with anyone associated with First UMC.

“We have a strict Child and Youth Protection Policy that we continue to enforce. It is our understanding that the police investigation is on-going. Our prayers are will with all involved in this situation.”

Fitzgerald is being held in the Polk County Jail on $2 million bail.

With Post Wires

Latest News

November 24, 2020
Trump downplays GSA move to ascertain Biden as 'apparent winner'

President Trump took to Twitter late Monday to respond to those who see the General Services Administration's decision to make federal resources available to Joe Biden's transition team as a sign that his legal challenge is losing steam. The GSA ascertained that Biden, the president-elect, is the "apparent winner" of the election earlier this month. […]

Read More
November 24, 2020
Graham warns Biden, Pelosi and Schumer would form 'trifecta from hell' if Democrats take Senate

"A lot's at stake" in Georgia's dual Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told "Hannity" Monday night. Graham explained to guest host Trey Gowdy that if Republicans win one of the two races and keep their majority, he will be chairman of the Senate Budget Committee beginning next […]

Read More
November 24, 2020
David Dinkins, New York's first Black mayor, dies at 93

Democratic mayoral candidate David Dinkins shakes the hands of children lining the route of the 1989 Columbus Day parade in New York. | Gerald Herbert/AP Photo By ASSOCIATED PRESS 11/24/2020 01:22 AM EST Updated: 11/24/2020 01:29 AM EST NEW YORK -- David Dinkins, who broke barriers as New York City's first African-American mayor, but was […]

Read More
November 24, 2020
New data shows 28% rise in child COVID-19 cases in last two weeks

New data shows an uptick in COVID-19 cases among children as health experts warn the public not to travel for the holidays. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported Monday there’s been 144,145 new cases of coronavirus in children from Nov. 12 to 19. Nearly 1.2 million children have tested positive for the virus as of […]

Read More
November 24, 2020
Dying Alabama man ready to ‘meet his maker’ confesses to 1995 cold case murder: cops

An Alabama man diagnosed with terminal lung cancer confessed Wednesday to killing another man 25 years ago, solving a cold case murder that had "nothing else to follow up on," according to authorities. Johnny Dwight Whited, 53, of Trinity, called the Decatur Police Department wanting to confess to the murder, telling police he wished to "lift […]

Read More
November 24, 2020
Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins dead at 93

David Dinkins, who served as New York City's first and only Black mayor during the 1990s, has died at 93. Dinkins' health aide found him unresponsive in his Lenox Hill apartment Monday night, the New York Post reported. The NYPD confrimed the report. He died just over a month after his wife, Joyce Dinkins, passed away […]

Read More
crossmenuchevron-down