Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas teacher accused of swapping child porn

CLEARWATER — A Pinellas schoolteacher was arrested at his home Thursday, accused of trading and possessing child pornography.

Aaron J. Stewart, 28, became the first person in Tampa Bay to be ensnared by the attorney general's CyberCrime Task Force, which partners local, state and federal authorities.

Investigators came across Stewart online when they noticed he was trading files of what they said was child pornography. They traced the files back to his computer at home and executed a search warrant there Thursday.

Authorities said Stewart admitted to the crimes.

According to jail affidavits, Stewart's videos depicted girls — as young as 7 years old — engaged in sex acts with men.

Stewart faces charges on nine counts of sexual performance of a minor-possession.

Anytime someone who has regular contact with children is arrested on child pornography charges, "one would have to be significantly worried," said Maureen Horkan, director of the state's Child Predator CyberCrimes Unit.

But Chuck McMullen, chief of law enforcement for the unit, said there was no indication the children in the images were Stewart's pupils.

Stewart was hired in August 2007 to teach music at Sexton, Shore Acres, Pinellas Central and Sawgrass Lake elementary schools. He was granted a voluntary transfer to Clearwater Intermediate School, an alternative school for children at risk for dropping out, where he was scheduled to begin work Aug. 11.

The district was unaware that Stewart was under investigation and learned of the arrest early Thursday morning, said spokeswoman Andrea Zahn.

Stewart will be placed on administrative leave with pay pending an internal investigation, she said. He had no record of misbehavior in the district.

Stewart was being held at the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $180,000 bail.

As of Oct. 1, people convicted of possession or distribution of Florida-based child pornography can also be sued in civil court by the victims. That's when Florida's Exploited Children's Rights Act goes into effect, allowing the Attorney General's Office to pursue the cases on behalf of the victims at their request.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa announced that Scott Wiegand, 43, of Largo has been indicted on one count of possession of child pornography. Wiegand faces up to 20 years if he's convicted. Federal prosecutors said he had possessed and received numerous items containing images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct from at least February 2007.

Times staff writer Donna Winchester contributed to this report.

Pinellas teacher accused of swapping child porn 07/31/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2008 3:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Pete's Downtown Looper expands service with $900,000 grant

    Transportation

    By DIVYA KUMAR

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG ­— The Downtown Looper will expand its route and its hours starting in October 2018 thanks to a $900,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.

  2. Latest sewage crisis fallout: Higher utility bills in St. Pete

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For months the cost of the city's sewage crisis has been measured in terms of environmental damage, legal ramifications and political repercussions.

    Now residents are about to get the bill.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage during the height of the city's sewage crisis. Now the City Council is considering how much to raise utility rates to pay the $326 million bill to fix St. Petersburg's sewage system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. Rays add a bat, too, acquiring Lucas Duda from Mets

    Blogs

    The Rays made another big move today, acquiring 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

    Duda, 31, is a lefty slugger who will take over as the Rays primary DH against right-handers, with Corey Dickerson now playing most of the time in the outfield.

    To get Duda, the Rays gave up minor-league RHP Drew Smith, …

    The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.
  4. Florida's legal losses up to $19 million and counting since 2011

    Blogs

    From Gary Fineout of the Associated Press:

    This is getting expensive.
  5. Susanne Bartsch installation at Tampa Museum of Art

    News

    Susanne Bartsch and Raquel Martuscelli adjust the hat and hair on a mannequin in the Susanne Bartsch: Art-a-Porter exhibit on Thursday July 27, 2017 at the Tampa Museum of Art, in Tampa, Fla. The exhibit features designs worn by Bartsch and highlights her career in fashion. Bartsch is known for her over the top style and lavish parties thrown in the New York club scene, since the 1980s. The exhibit runs July 30 through November 12.