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Former Hillsborough physics teacher faces 100 child porn counts

Roy William Thomas, 63, of Temple Terrace was a teacher in the Hillsborough County school system for 33 years before retiring in June 2007. He taught physics at Leto High for 32 years and at East Bay High for one year.

Hillsborough County Jail

Roy William Thomas, 63, of Temple Terrace was a teacher in the Hillsborough County school system for 33 years before retiring in June 2007. He taught physics at Leto High for 32 years and at East Bay High for one year.

TAMPA — A former Hillsborough County physics teacher took some of the 100 child pornography images he is accused of possessing, authorities said.

Roy William Thomas, 63, of Temple Terrace was a teacher in the Hillsborough school system for 33 years before retiring in June 2007. He taught physics at Leto High School for 32 years and at East Bay High School for one year.

Thomas had no disciplinary record with the school system, according to district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe. Principals at the two schools did not return calls seeking comment.

There is no indication that any of the pornographic photos are of students at the schools, said Temple Terrace police spokesman Mike Dunn. And detectives don't believe the images date to his days as a teacher, he said.

Temple Terrace police began investigating Thomas in April after getting a tip about possible child abuse. Police said he asked an 11-year-old girl to pose nude.

Police seized his home computer and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement searched it. Investigators said they found images of child pornography stored in it.

In August, he was arrested on 10 counts of possession of photographs of sexual performance by a child. He was released Oct. 31 after posting a bond for his $75,000 bail.

On Oct. 19, Thomas' son turned over six discs that were found in his father's safe, authorities said. The discs contained child pornography, including photos that had been taken by Thomas.

On Nov. 23, police issued a warrant for his arrest. He was arrested that day while in Manatee County.

Thomas was booked Monday into the Hillsborough County Jail and was being held on $1 million bail.

In addition to the 100 counts of possession of child pornography, which is a third-degree felony, he also was booked on 10 counts of promotion of a sexual performance by a child, a second-degree felony, jail records show.

In October, another longtime employee of the Hillsborough County School system was sent to prison after admitting to downloading thousands of images of child pornography.

Robert Frederick Murray, who resigned as a guidance counselor at Brandon High School after his arrest, pleased no contest to possession of 181 child porn images.

No evidence was presented showing Murray, a 25-year Hillsborough County schools employee, had ever produced or traded illicit images or involved any students he counseled.

A judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison.

Reporter Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386.

Former Hillsborough physics teacher faces 100 child porn counts 12/06/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 11:22pm]
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