John Stelmack – School principal – Child Porn charges

“The photographs that Stelmack manipulated into child pornography are graphic and repulsive,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “To think that a school principal, someone who is entrusted with the safety and well-being of hundreds of school children, would do something like this is incomprehensible.”

If you’re going to work on your Photoshop skills, this is not the way to do it. A Polk County elementary school principal faces child porn charges after investigators say they found pictures of a young student’s face superimposed onto nude images in his office.

A Lakeland, Florida elementary school principal faces child porn charges after police said they found pictures of a young student’s face superimposed onto nude images in his office.

According to MyFOXTampaBay, John Stelmack, the principal of Scott Lake Elementary School in Lakeland, developed a reputation for being friendly with the students — too friendly, some parents thought.

“He’s very touchy, huggy-feely with the children, as far as hugging them in the morning, saying hello, greeting them,” said parent Stacy Williams. “My initial thought, which a lot of parents thought, was that he was just being overly friendly.”

Parents complained, and the school suspended Stelmack. As part of a subsequent investigation, deputies say, the school seized the principal’s briefcase. Inside were five images of child pornography, which were allegedly created by Stelmack.

According to investigators, Stelmack took photographs of children in normal school settings — one of whom was identified as a 10-year-old student who attended Scott Lake Elementary last year — and digitally superimposed their heads onto nude images.

“The photographs that Stelmack manipulated into child pornography are graphic and repulsive,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “To think that a school principal, someone who is entrusted with the safety and well-being of hundreds of school children, would do something like this is incomprehensible.”

Stelmack now faces five counts of possession of child pornography, and was jailed on $100,000 bond. He could face more charges after detectives finish a search of his home.

UPDATE:

Here’s the latest statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office:

The Polk County Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit arrested John Stelmack, the principal of Scott Lake Elementary School in Lakeland, DOB 2/4/47, this morning, December 21, 2007, at his residence 5749 Deer Track Trail in Lakeland, after investigation revealed he created and possessed child pornography.

Stelmack was suspended from his job as principal by the Polk County School Board on Friday, December 14, 2007, for an administrative investigation. During their administrative investigation they seized a black briefcase from his office, and on Wednesday, December 19, 2007, the school board superintendant contacted PCSO in regards to what they found in that briefcase.

Inside the briefcase were 5 images of child pornography created by Stelmack. Stelmack took routine photographs of children in a school setting — one of whom was positively identified as a 10-year-old student who attended Scott Lake Elementary last year — and digitally superimposed their heads onto nude images. The identified girl’s facial image was on four of the pictures, and another unidentified female child’s face was placed on the body of another nude image. The investigation is ongoing.

Stelmack is married and has 2 adult children. He came to Polk County from the New York state school system. He is being booked into the Polk County Jail today for 5 counts of Possession of Child Pornography, and will have bond set at $100,000. Detectives are serving a search warrant at his home and further charges may be filed against him depending on what is found during the search warrant.

“The photographs that Stelmack manipulated into child pornography are graphic and repulsive,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “To think that a school principal, someone who is entrusted with the safety and well-being of hundreds of school children, would do something like this is incomprehensible.”

So far during the execution of our search warrant, PCSO deputies have taken a laptop computer and a desktop computer from the home of John Stelmack. So far they have located 100 digital images on the laptop computer, of which possibly 10 to 20 could be classified as child pornography. The same four images that were mentioned earlier, with the face of the 10-year-old former Scott Lake Elementary student, were located on the laptop as well in digital form.

The forensic examination of the computers that PCSO seized is ongoing, and once completed, PCSO detectives will meet with the State Attorney’s Office to determine if and when any further charges will be filed against Stelmack. This meeting with the SAO will occur next week after the Christmas holiday.

There will be no more updates on this case, except for information on whether or not Stelmack posts bond or has a first appearance hearing, until after Christmas.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office
Published in: on December 23, 2007 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

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