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Polk teacher accused of possessing child porn


Published:   |   Updated: June 13, 2013 at 06:04 PM

A Polk County teacher has been arrested on 20 counts of possession of child pornography, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said today.
 
Lawrence Douglas Hughes, 59, of Lakeland is a research teacher at Union Academy Magnet School, deputies said.
 
Detectives began an investigation with the Polk County School Board on May 28 when officials learned that a student, who was using Hughes' school board-issued classroom computer for research, saw a "warning" pop up on the computer that said "You have been viewing or distributing child pornography."
 
The student told investigators that Hughes shut down the computer and did not say anything about the pop-up message.
 
The student also told investigators Hughes invited him on a canoeing trip earlier in the year, and although he didn't go, two other male students went on the trip. The student told investigators that he later saw pictures of the boys in bathing suits during the canoe trip.
 
The student said Mr. Hughes "wrestled" with one of the boys on the trip and that the two boys and Mr. Hughes were holding hands and "praying" together while on the trip, according to a news release.
 
Deputies obtained two computers assigned to Hughes and found child pornographic images/pictures on both, according to the release.
 
Detectives served a search warrant today at Hughes' home and will examine any electronic devices there for other pornographic images.
 
Detectives ask that students or parents who have any knowledge of any inappropriate contact that Lawrence Douglas Hughes may have had with children to contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 863-298-6200.
 

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