Sunday, November 19, 2017
Public safety

Dunedin school volunteer charged after paying girl, 12, to pose for pictures

RECOMMENDED READING


DUNEDIN — In a 2008 MySpace blog, Steven J. Andrews listed 20 facts about himself, including several that humorously strived to explain why he and others described him as "weird."

Andrews wrote about his hobby of drumming and bagpiping. Describing himself as a one-time kindergarten teacher, he said he loved working with children and wanted a few of his own someday.

Then there was No. 14 on the list. It and other postings on the social networking profile detailed Andrews' "weakness" for females in spandex.

On Tuesday, Andrews was arrested after authorities discovered he had taken sexually explicit photos of a 12-year-old girl — some of them showing her dressed in full-body spandex or bound and gagged, according to reports.

Police say Andrews, a volunteer at Dunedin Highland Middle and Dunedin High schools who also worked briefly at a Tampa day care center, paid the girl to pose in various costumes, including Hello Kitty and a butterfly.

Detectives said they believe Andrews also volunteered at Berkeley Preparatory, a Tampa private school for students in prekindergarten through grade 12. School officials didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Andrews, 29, of 426 Roanoke St. in Dunedin, was arrested at his home Tuesday night on three counts of sexual performance by a child.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert set Andrews' bail Wednesday morning at $75,000.

Pinellas County sheriff's deputies say their investigation revealed that Andrews paid the child $100 to "model" various outfits at a North Pinellas home at least three times between August and February. He then bound and gagged the girl and took pictures of her, which police said he kept for his personal use.

After Andrews' arrest, authorities recovered from his shorts pocket a thumb drive containing about 100 photos of the girl, including 20 in which she was bound. Deputies said Andrews admitted he looked at the photos while masturbating.

"The photos themselves with the various costumes by themselves would not have constituted a crime," said Pinellas sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda. "What made it to the level of a crime was that she was posed in a position where she was bound and gagged."

Detectives said the incident came to light Sunday, after the girl complained to her mother that she had not been paid for a recent photo session. The mother contacted authorities.

Andrews was introduced to the girl through his girlfriend. The alleged crime, Barreda said, "was not directed in any way toward anyone at the schools. It wasn't connected to the schools, other than he was a volunteer there."

However, detectives fear there may be other victims because of Andrews' access to minors.

In addition to his volunteer role at the two Dunedin schools and perhaps at Berkeley Prep, he had recently gotten a job as a part-time after-school teacher at Children's Nest Day School in Tampa. Officials at the day care center, which takes children ages 1 to 11, said Andrews had only been employed there for 17 days and had missed several days of work before his arrest.

Andrews and a second teacher assisted each other in the center's elementary-age latchkey program, said area director Tripp Crouch. He said the school found out about the arrest Wednesday morning and immediately terminated Andrews' employment.

"No one has contacted us … so we're — knock on wood — confident that there's no issue," Crouch said.

Pinellas County school officials say Andrews has volunteered since September with the bands at Dunedin Highland Middle and Dunedin High. Andrews passed the district's formal volunteer screening process, which included a check of his criminal history, said district spokeswoman Melanie Marquez.

"Upon his arrest, his privileges as a volunteer have been immediately suspended," Marquez said.

Andrews has no prior arrests in Florida.

His Facebook page also claims he worked as a kindergarten teacher and assistant principal for Highland Christian School between August 2003 and August 2006.

Times staff writer Curtis Krueger contributed to this report. Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected]

Comments
On the night shift in Seminole Heights, Tampa police keep watch for a killer

On the night shift in Seminole Heights, Tampa police keep watch for a killer

TAMPATampa Police Lt. Gary Neal is almost halfway into his shift when the shots ring out.He jumps into his white 2016 Dodge Charger and races the few blocks from District 3 headquarters to the scene of a drive-by shooting in a city rattled by a strin...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tampa couple recounts wrong-way DUI crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway

Tampa couple recounts wrong-way DUI crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway

TAMPA — Police arrested a 26-year-old man they say drove the wrong way while drunk and caused a multi-vehicle crash that injured several people late Friday on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.Collin John Cole faces two counts of driving under the influ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Boater missing in waters north of Bradenton, dog found alive

Boater missing in waters north of Bradenton, dog found alive

CORTEZ — The Coast Guard and others are scouring the waters near Mead Point, just inland from Anna Maria Island, for a 63-year-old boater who has been missing since Friday evening. Fraser Horne of Cortez left Egmont Key on his 30-foot boat, Golden Ru...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Romano: Hunting for a deadly needle in the Seminole Heights haystack

Romano: Hunting for a deadly needle in the Seminole Heights haystack

During the day, you hear from the psychics and the kooks. The well-intentioned tipsters, and the unsolicited profilers. This is all part of serial killer spillover, a sort of cottage industry of macabre.It gets tougher at night when you’re hounded by...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Possible wrong-way crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday

TAMPA — A multi-vehicle crash on the Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday may have been caused by a driver traveling in the wrong direction, Tampa police said.The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes closer to the Tampa side of the causeway, near ...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17
Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — Police took one person into custody late Friday after a drive-by shooting ended in Seminole Heights.The incident, which unfolded about 11 p.m., did not appear to be related to the spate of other recent shootings in Seminole Heights that have ...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17

Man hit, killed while crossing U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor

PALM HARBOR — A pedestrian died after he was hit by a vehicle Friday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The man, who was not identified, was crossing U.S. 19 from west to east, north of Tampa Road in Palm Harbor about 8:30 p.m., troopers ...
Published: 11/17/17
19 digital billboards now spread word of reward in Seminole Heights killings

19 digital billboards now spread word of reward in Seminole Heights killings

TAMPA — To help spread the word about reward money offered in connection with four unsolved shooting deaths in Seminole Heights, two billboard companies have donated the use of a combined 19 digital billboards.On Thursday, police announced the reward...
Published: 11/17/17

Deputies: No injuries after reported gunshot near Seminole schools

SEMINOLE — Deputies are investigating a report of a gunshot that resulted in two schools being put on lockdown Friday morning. About 8:24 a.m., the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office received a call at Rita’s Italian Ice, 13147 86th Ave., in Seminole. ...
Published: 11/17/17
20 injured in fire at Pennsylvania senior living community

20 injured in fire at Pennsylvania senior living community

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — A massive fire at a senior living community in Pennsylvania injured at least 20 people and forced dozens more, many of whom were unable to walk, into the cold night air. Firefighters were still dousing hot spots Friday, even thoug...
Published: 11/17/17