LAKELAND, Fla. - As a sheriff's deputy watched Cecil McClellan being hauled off to jail, he recognized the face. McClellan was one of his teachers at Lake Gibson middle school.
McClellan's face is now being recognized as the suspect in an undercover video soliciting sex from a fake prostitute. The 49-year old principal of Kathleen High School was taken into custody during a weeklong sting operation by the Polk County Sheriff's Office that netted 89 arrests.
In the video, investigators said McClellan is seen sitting on a bed with an undercover officer, taking off a golf shirt with the high school's logo.
"For him to have a misstep like this was just so unlike him," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. "To say that we're disappointed and embarrassed for his family is an understatement," Judd said.
The sheriff said McClellan appeared to have experience with prostitutes. Investigators immediately noticed that he checked the bathroom after arriving to the motel room, suggesting he was suspicious of getting caught.
"Can I wash my hands?" the man suspected of being McClellan said in the video.
"Go ahead, you can wash your hands. The sink's over there," the undercover officer said. After that, the suspect sat down on a bed, placed his hand on the officer, and then removed his shirt.
McClellan, who is married, has been involved with the Polk County school district for 25-years. He started as a teacher, and became the principal of Kathleen High in 2004. He was well-known for working with law enforcement, especially deputies that deal with students.
"I think that's what brought the biggest shock to the community," Judd said.
The fact that the sting operation took place the same week as the Republican National Convention was no coincidence. The sheriff said he had a suspicion about a misconception.
"We know that some criminals think, well, maybe law enforcement in Central Florida is busy over in Tampa, and they won't be watching us in Polk County," Judd said. "Surprise! We were."
Most of those arrested were caught soliciting for sex. Others were charged with prostitution. Several more were accused of pimping.
Three women are accused of specifically traveling to Florida for the convention.
"They all came from Alabama to the RNC. They were looking to work as nude dancers or prostitutes," Judd said. The sheriff lightheartedly warned that they might head to the democratic convention next.
"The DNC needs to be suspicious of them," Judd said. "They may end up in Charlotte," he said.
The sheriff said the most egregious offender was a JetBlue mechanic from Orlando who investigators believe was interested in an eleven-year old girl, despite getting offers for adults.
"We advertised for 20, 25, 18, 19. He chose the very youngest girl," Judd said.
This is the breakdown of the charges:
59 - Arrested for solicitation of prostitution (johns)
19 - Arrested for offering to commit prostitution (prostitutes)
5 - Arrested for deriving proceeds from prostitution (pimps or drivers)
4 - "Other" (1 drug charge, 1 disorderly conduct and resisting arrest)
1 - Traveling to meet a minor for sex
1 - Aiding and abetting prostitution
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UPDATE: The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, was a top-of-the-scale EF-5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph.