LAKELAND, Fla. - Parents are horrified over the arrest of a Lake Gibson High School teacher and coach, who is accused of having child porn and taking inappropriate pictures of his students.
Deputies interrupted football practice Wednesday night to arrest Assistant Coach James Arnett. He's also an in-school suspension teacher at Lake Gibson.
Investigators say last week, Arnett lost his computer thumb drive in a school bathroom.
A student found the device and turned it over to deputies after seeing what was on it.
Sheriff Grady Judd said the device contented hundreds of inappropriate, candid pictures of female students at Lake Gibson. The kids were fully clothed, but the pictures focused on particular body parts.
"There was a sinister motive to what he was doing. Some of that sinister motive is not illegal. Some of it is," Judd said.
Also on the device, deputies found two pictures of child porn, mixed in with adult porn and plenty of other inappropriate pictures. The child porn is ultimately what landed him in jail.
Judd said he confessed to everything except the child porn.
Parents see it as the ultimate betrayal of trust.
"I want to homeschool my kids. I don't even want to let them out the door!" Said Judith Russell, whose daughter attends Lake Gibson High. "You worry because you let your stay here with these trusted adults, and look what's happening."
Senior Jade Roe said a lot of girls at school seemed to like him.
"I've been in the learning center once, and there was just something off about him, I thought," she said. "He's a creep now. That's what people are saying."
While investigators don't have any evidence of it, they fear that Arnett's apparent obsession does not stop at pictures.
They're eager to hear from students.
"In my estimation folks, he was in the process of grooming children," he said. "We know of at least two kids that we're going to talk to, to see if there was any inappropriate contact with them."
Investigators urge other students to contact the sheriff's office if they have seen the suspect involved in inappropriate contact.
Thursday afternoon, a judge set Arnett's bond at $40,000, but he will remain in the county jail for at least another night.
The sheriff's office decided to add another charge of unlawful use of a computer. He'll face an judge again on Friday.
Polk County Schools released the following statement on the investigation:
"It has been reported that Polk County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested Lake Gibson High School ESE teacher and assistant football coach James Shannon Arnett. Mr. Arnett has been placed on paid administrative leave, and the District will cooperate fully with law enforcement officials. The matter is also being investigated internally.
Crisis counselors will be on site at Lake Gibson High School tomorrow.
Mr. Arnett is 41 years old and makes $44,749 annually. From 1997 until 2003 he was employed as a teacher at Lakeland High School. He taught at Lake Gibson High School from 2003 until 2008, when he left the district. He returned to Lake Gibson High School in his present capacity in 2011."
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