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Crime & Courts

Lake Gibson High coach faces child porn charges


Published:   |   Updated: May 10, 2013 at 05:33 AM

A Lake Gibson High School assistant football coach was arrested Wednesday after Polk County deputies said he had two child pornography images on a thumb drive.

James Shannon Arnett, 41, who is also an in-school suspension teacher, had hundreds more images on the drive, many of clothed female students taken without permission, Sheriff Grady Judd said.

He was charged with two counts of possession of child pornography. His bond was set $40,000, and he was ordered to have no contact with children.

As a result of an additional charge of unlawful access to a computer system, however, Arnett must appear in court again Friday, and he will remain in jail tonight.

Some of the photos were focused on the girls' breasts, buttocks or genital areas, deputies said.

“We found a lot of photographs of Lake Gibson High School students, girls specifically,” Judd said. “These photographs were provocative.”

The thumb drive also had image files of nude adult females and child “erotica,” Judd said. There were also photos of two girls taken at a Lakeland park who were clothed but unknown to Arnett, Judd said.

Some photos appear to have been taken in a classroom setting and in a track-and-field setting, deputies said. Some were wearing bathing suits “with their legs spread with the focal point of the photo being that of their genital area,” the sheriff's office said.

None of those met the legal definition of pornography, the sheriff's office said.

The two images he faces charges on show girls between the ages of 10 and 16 performing sex acts on men, deputies said.

The types of photos found on the drive led investigators to believe Arnett may be “grooming” girls for sex, Judd said.

“We need to hear from the students,” Judd said. “We need to hear from those who may have been a victim.”

Arnett, the team's defensive coordinator, is married and has four children, ages 5 to 16.

He lost the thumb drive on campus at the end of last week, Judd said. A student found it, took it home over the weekend and looked at the images. Upon returning to school, he reported the photos to the school resource deputy.

“The student did something I thought was very appropriate, shows a lot of maturity,” Judd said. “He told the deputy, 'I have a 12-year-old sister, and I'm really PO'd.' ”

Coincidentally, Arnett previously told the resource deputy that he had lost a thumb drive.  He told the deputy he was worried because the device contained defensive football plays, deputies said.  He had said he thought he lost the thumb drive in a school bathroom, deputies said. 

Arnett, of 8810 Pine Tree Drive, Lakeland, was arrested Wednesday on campus after school and was being held at the Polk County Jail, Judd said. He faces two counts of child pornography and one count of using the Internet to obtain pornography, both felonies.

An investigation is still ongoing.

Judd said investigators seized Arnett's work computer, home computers and personal.

Arnett told investigators he had been addicted to pornography since age 9, Judd said.

He admitted to possessing all the images except those deemed pornography, the sheriff's said. He told investigators he would access photos on Facebook and download them, Judd said.

Arnett returned to Lake Gibson's football staff in 2011 after coaching four years at Clay County High School in Manchester, Ky.

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