NewsHillsborough County


Tampa area principal arrested for sending explicit texts to detective posing as teen, sheriff says

Derrick McLaughlin.png
Posted at 10:42 AM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 10:42:59-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said an elementary school principal was arrested on Thursday after he sent sexually explicit texts to undercover detectives that were posing as a 15-year-old boy.

Derrick McLaughlin, 41, is the principal at Dawson Elementary School in Riverview. He was hired by the district in December 2002.

According to the sheriff's office, McLaughlin initiated a text conversation with the undercover detectives who were portrayed as a teenager. Over the course of the investigation, authorities said McLaughlin tried to entice the detectives to engage in sexual acts.

McLaughlin was arrested on charges of 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.

After his arrest, the sheriff's office said McLaughlin made suicidal statements and was placed under a Baker Act.

The sheriff's office said there is no indication that there are any additional victims at this time. The investigation remains active.

"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."
Sheriff Chad Chronister

McLaughlin is currently on administrative, the school district said in a statement.

"We are shocked and deeply troubled by the charges filed against Derrick McLaughlin. Our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of students and staff. Mr. McLaughlin is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation."
Hillsborough County Schools