Lakeland Teacher Faces 408 Child Porn Charges - WUSF Public Media | Tampa NPR, Local News Coverage

Lakeland Teacher Faces 408 Child Porn Charges

Shawn Fitzgerald, seen in a Polk Co. Sheriff's Office mugshot, has been charged with 408 counts of possessing child pornography. Polk County Sheriff's Office

Authorities say a Lakeland High school teacher has been charged with 408 counts of child pornography possession.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said on Saturday that Shawn Fitzgerald, 46, possessed hundreds of pornographic images on his cellphone.

Fitzgerald is a teacher and varsity soccer coach for Lakeland High, as well as a youth director at First United Methodist Church in Bartow.

“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,” Judd said at a news conference Saturday.

Investigators were led to Fitzgerald by a tip from the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children.

Judd said the images showed both male and female children, with some victims appearing to be as young as 10- to 12- months old.

Investigators will conduct further forensic searches of Fitzgerald’s cell phone and other electronic data storage devices, and additional charges are possible.

Judd said it didn’t appear that the images were locally produced or that Fitzgerald had harmed any children himself.

It wasn’t clear Saturday if Fitzgerald has a lawyer. He was jailed on $2 million bail.

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