Pasco school district ‘stunned’ by federal child porn charges against assistant principal

Pasco County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – An assistant principal from Pasco County was in federal court in Tampa Wednesday to face child pornography charges.

Kyle Ritsema, 35, was arrested by federal agents Tuesday.

According to court paperwork, he chatted for months with another person from Pasco County about their sexual interest in children.

That person, only identified as “Defendant 1” in court paperwork, was arrested late last year on similar charges.

Some of the texts between the men discussed encounters with teenage boys.

The paperwork shows that Ritsema sent the unidentified man five images of a juvenile male in March of 2015. Some of the pictures were graphic.

On Tuesday, federal agents went to Ritsema’s workplace, Cypress Creek Middle-High School, to discuss the charges.

Ritsema explained to the agents that he meet the teen online and the teen claimed he was 18.

However, court documents show the boy was 14 at the time of the first encounter with Ritsema.

He confirmed to detectives that some of the pictures shared with “Defendant 1” via text were taken inside his car, according to documents.

Later, detectives talked to the boy who confirmed the story.

The school district sent the following statement to News Channel 8:

We are stunned by these charges against Mr. Ritsema. He was subject to a pre-employment level 2 background check through the FBI, and a follow-up after five years of employment; neither turned up any criminal activity. In addition, we’ve never had any complaints about Mr. Ritsema in more than 10 years of employment. The superintendent intends to recommend that the school board suspend him without pay at their next regular meeting, which is Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Last year, William Napolitano, a transportation manager for Pasco County Schools, was arrested on similar charges. He remains in jail.

Roughly a week after his arrest, he resigned from his position.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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