SARASOTA, Fla. — A Sarasota County school teacher has been arrested, accused of possessing child pornography.
Quentin Peterson, 25, a math teacher at Booker High School was arrested Tuesday. He previously worked as a music teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Manatee County.
Palmetto Police say that they began investigating Peterson in May 2017 for allegedly engaging in sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl. As part of the investigation, multiple cell phones and laptops were seized as evidence.
Forensic exams on the devices revealed images of a teenage girl without a shirt on. According to a Palmetto Police report, one particular image showed the girl "with nothing on from the waist up in bed lying on top of Peterson who is also wearing no shirt. Both are covered by a blanket from the waist down. [Redacted] and Peterson are kissing in the picture as well." The police report additionally states that the date stamp on the photo was December 13, 2016. At that time, Peterson was 24, and the girl in the photos was 16, police say.
A neighbor and former educator of Peterson's said the allegation is shocking.
"It just hurts me that something like this happens when a person of a responsibility does this with an underage child," said the neighborhood.
In August 2017, police met with the female in the images. Initially, she denied having any relationship with Peterson beyond a platonic friendship. Police say that when asked about the photos found on Peterson's phones and laptop, she said that she "doctored" the images. However, after authorities challenged her claims, police say she ultimately admitted that she and Peterson had engaged in a sexual relationship.
"This is the most recent of three cases involving possible inappropriate relationships with Peterson and females," the police report states.
Following the news of his arrest, the Sarasota County School District released the following statement:
"Today, the Sarasota Police Department, assisting with a warrant from the Palmetto Police Department, arrested Mr. Quentin Peterson, a math teacher at Booker High School, on charges of possessing child pornography. According to the Palmetto Police Department, it appears as if none of the students at Booker High School were impacted by his actions. Mr. Peterson has been placed on administrative leave with no interaction with students as we investigate this matter.
He has been employed with Sarasota County Schools since February 28, 2018. Until today, he did not have any criminal charges placed against him.
This investigation is on-going and is being led by the Palmetto Police Department."
Peterson was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. His bond was set at $50,000.
According to Palmetto Police, "The SAO (State Attorney's Office) has declined to charge him with unlawful sexual conduct."
ABC Action News has reached out to the State Attorney's Office for comment but has not heard back.