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MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER ARRESTED IN SEX STING

A Hillsborough County middle school teacher has been suspended after deputies say he offered an undercover officer $150 for sex.

Richard P. Kemper, 50, of Lithia was one of 13 people arrested during an undercover sting targeting those looking for weekend sex through the Internet, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Those men arrested from Thursday through Saturday ranged in age from 33 to 74, the Sheriff's Office said. While most of them were from Lakeland, two other eastern Hillsborough residents were taken into custody as part of the sting.

Thomas D. Castle, 50, of Riverview and Gerald S. Chrethien, 56, of Plant City were both charged with soliciting sex.

As with the others, Kemper, a Randall Middle School teacher, answered a Craigslist ad posted online by undercover detectives, officials say. On Friday night, deputies say, he showed up at a Winter Haven residence and offered a detective $150 for sex.

Kemper was charged with soliciting sex, and battery. The latter charge was for touching the undercover officer, deputies say. He was released from the Central County Jail early Saturday after posting $750 bail.

Kemper is listed on the Randall Middle Web site as a sixth-grade geography teacher. He has been employed by the district for a little over three years, said Stephen Hegarty, Hillsborough County schools spokesman.

"He will be suspended with pay and informed not to report to school," Hegarty said. "The School Board must vote to suspend him without pay and to determine further action."

Though the board meets Tuesday, Hegarty said that he doubted administrators and board members would have enough time to review the case by then.

Chandra Broadwater can be reached at cbroadwater@sptimes.com or 661-2454.

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