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Registered sex offender arrested after admitting to sexual activity with minor

Posted: 2:39 PM, Sep 27, 2017
Updated: 2017-09-28 02:25:20Z

A registered sexual offender has been arrested after he admitted to deputies that he had been sexually involved with a 17-year-old girl since August of 2017. 

Philip Penaloza, 25, of Ruskin, admitted to communicating with the minor for the past 2 years on Facebook. According to HCSO, Penaloza had one sexual encounter with the juvenile girl at the Ruskin Public Library and several more encounters under the US 41 South overpass behind Ruskin Elementary School. During that time, Penaloza was using a Facebook account not registered with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

According to federal court documents, he was under investigation by the FBI for much of that timeframe for using social media to possess and distribute child pornography. The federal criminal complaint says he was committing the crimes connected to child pornography from December, 2015, through August, 2016. At the time, he told investigators he had not committed any hand's on offenses.

He was convicted of the child pornography crime in February of this year. His 4-month stint in the Pinellas County Jail counted for time served. His sentence after conviction was a lifetime of supervision.

While court documents say investigators looked through Penaloza's phone and some social media, the FBI would not answer our question of whether or not investigators were aware of his communication with any minors at the time of the investigation into the child pornography case.

A spokesperson for the FBI did send the following:

"The FBI is responsible for investigating the conduct leading up to an arrest.  During pre-trial, the FBI does not supervise the subject; that is the  responsibility of pre-trial services."

Penaloza was arrested and transported to the Orient Road Jail. He has been charged with 7 counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and 2 counts of failure of sex offender to respond to address.