RIVERVIEW, FL – A elementary school principal for the Hillsborough County School District has been arrested after an undercover chat operation allegedly caught him texting sexually explicit messages to who he thought was a juvenile.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office conducted a recent undercover chat operation in which they posed as juveniles in hopes of nabbing potential sex offenders before they commit a crime.
It was during this chat operation that detectives came across a person who should be trusted with children, and elementary school principal.
Detectives allege that 41-year-old Derrick McLaughlin, the principal for Dawson Elementary School, began chatting with who he thought was a 15-year-old boy on an unidentified social media app. Detectives continued chatting with McLaughlin from January 19th through January 27th.
Detectives claim that McLaughlin began attempting to entice who he thought was a boy to engage in sexual acts with him over the course of the investigation. Detectives kept the investigation going until they placed him under arrest on January 27th.
Detectives took McLaughlin into custody and charged him with transmission of harmful material to a minor, unlawful use of a two-way communications device, and use of computer services or devices to solicit certain illegal acts.
When McLaughlin was taken into custody, he allegedly told detectives that he wanted to commit suicide.
As a result, on top of the criminal charges against him, detectives also placed him under a Baker Act.
A Baker Act in Florida allows law enforcement officers and medical officials to evaluate a person’s mental state.
If they determine that the person is a threat to themselves or others and without treatment, they are likely to be harmed, the person can be taken into custody for up to 72 hours for a mental evaluation.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister released a statement on the investigation and arrest of McLaughlin on Facebook. He wrote:
“It’s sickening that a trusted member of our community, a school principal, would take advantage of a child for his own self-gratification.
Thankfully, it was not a child, but one of our detectives who was on the receiving end of his obscene messages. No child should be subjected to the disturbing behavior put on display by McLaughlin.”
Detectives are continuing their investigation into McLaughlin in case there are any other victims that have yet to be identified. However, currently, they are stating it does not appear there are any other victims.
Erin Maloney, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Public School, released a statement following McLaughlin’s arrest. In the statement, she wrote:
“We are shocked and deeply troubled by the charges filed against Derrick McLaughlin. Our top priority is the safety and well-being of students and staff. Mr. McLaughlin is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.”
As Sheriff Chronister noted, thankfully McLaughlin was communicating with an undercover law enforcement officer opposed to a real juvenile.
However, that is not always the case, which is why Law Enforcement Today, and other members of law enforcement strongly encourage that parents keep tabs on all social media and online video game activity of their children.
Sadly, situations like this occur every day throughout the country, and in some cases, the suspects are successful in grooming a child and enticing them to perform sexual acts on them.
By keeping track of what your child is doing online, you may be able to catch an adult attempting to lure them in and stop the child from being victimized.
POLK COUNTY, FL – Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrest of four people who are accused of possessing child pornography.
Additionally, one of the suspects was holding a child against their will and were rescued by law enforcement.
Sheriff Judd announced that his office received tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NCMEC, that there were suspects who were in Polk County, Florida that were downloading images which were suspected to be child pornography.
NCMEC monitors electronic communications and any time a sexually explicit image that possibly depicts a child comes up, they send that information to the law enforcement jurisdiction for follow up.
Based upon the information from NCMEC, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office launched a cyber undercover operation in hopes of identifying and apprehending those responsible.
The investigation was a success and the Sheriff’s Office was able to identify Melvin Lagos, Jr, Christian Pillot-Osorio, Billy “Jordan” Rose, and Ian Gadd (convicted child sex predator) as the suspected offenders.
Armed with the information, the Sheriff’s detectives authored search warrants for each of the four suspects’ houses. What they found was disgusting to say the least. Judd said:
“These suspects – who are the worst of the worst – used common social media apps, like Instagram, Snapchat, and Kik to transmit and download child pornography. This is clear proof that these horrific images are easier than ever to find and share. Each time an image is downloaded or shared, the victim in that image is re-victimized.”
On December 10th, Judd noted that the investigation resulted in the following charges for Gadd:
Gadd, charged with two counts of transmission of child pornography and 89 counts of enhanced possession of child pornography. Detectives who did a cursory review of Gadd’s phone reported victims who appeared as young as 3 years old being sexually battered.
Gadd was additionally charged with 10 counts of using a child in a sexual performance, 10 counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child and 11 counts of sexual battery on a child less than 12 years old. He is currently being held in the Polk County Jail without bond.
“He [Gadd] told us, during this investigation, the only reason he stopped transmitting child porn was because Instagram blocked him.”
Judd said that Gadd also had a three-year-old child that he had been allegedly sexually abusing prior to his arrest. He said that the young child was groomed for roughly three months before he began to engage in sexual acts with the child.
Lagos has been charged with 32 counts of enhanced possession of child pornography. Detectives noted that they discovered children who appeared to be as young as 8 years of age being sexually battered on an electronic device.
Lagos is currently being held in the Polk County Jail on a $32,000 bond.
Pillot-Osorio has been charged with four counts of transmission of child pornography and 33 counts of enhanced possession of child pornography on an electronic device he had in his control.
Judd noted that the victims allegedly found on Pillot-Osorio’s device contained images of children as young 5 months old being sexually battered in some manner.
Pillot-Osorio allegedly told investigators that he had been using Snapchat and other social media apps to send and receive the disturbing images. He is currently being held in the Polk County Jail without bond.
According to Judd, Rose was charged with 38 counts of enhanced possession of child pornography after detectives did an initial overview of his electronic devices.
Those images reportedly showed children as young as 2 years old being sexually abused.
Rose allegedly focused his sexual attention towards infants and allegedly admitted to using Kik Messenger to find his child pornography. Rose is being held in the Polk County Jail on a $585,000 bond.
Judd noted that the investigation into these four people is far from over. He said:
“Please understand [the counts] are just initial charges at the time of the search warrant. We have not gone through all of their different electronic devices. That will occur over the next weeks.
There’s a great likelihood, because we usually find additional child porn, for which they will be charged in the future…We continue to encourage parents to be all up in their child’s business – no matter how old their child is. We want these suspects locked up so that they never have access to children.”
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