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Saint Leo creative writing director and professor arrested on child porn charges

Steven Kistulentz, 55, was arrested Tuesday. The Safety Harbor man is a prominent professor and writer.
Steve Kistulentz, 55, a Saint Leo University professor, was arrested on multiple child pornography charges.
Steve Kistulentz, 55, a Saint Leo University professor, was arrested on multiple child pornography charges. [ Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]
Published May 20|Updated May 20

A prominent Saint Leo University professor has been arrested on child pornography charges, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Steven Kistulentz, 55, faces two charges of intentional viewing of child pornography and 10 counts of possession of child pornography. He is director of the graduate creative writing program and an associate professor of English at the university, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Kistulentz has been placed on administrative leave and his access to the campus in Pasco County has been suspended, according to a statement from the university.

“He will have no contact with students,” the university said in its statement. “We are awaiting further information as this matter is being investigated.”

Sheriff’s detectives began investigating after they received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that child pornography was being uploaded on the messaging app Kik. Detectives identified Kistulentz as the suspect, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators got a search warrant for Kistulentz’s home in Safety Harbor, where they seized electronic devices he owned.

Detectives said Kistulentz confessed to sending and receiving child pornography on the Kik account. He was arrested Tuesday and booked in the Pinellas County Jail. He was being held at the jail Friday in lieu of $220,000 bail.

Kistulentz’s biography on the Saint Leo University’s website was taken down this week. According to the biography, he spent 20 years working in politics before becoming a writer. He published a novel, “Panorama,” in 2018 and had a forthcoming novel on the way, according to his biography. Kistulentz also has published multiple poetry collections and served as the poet laureate in Safety Harbor, starting in 2019. A city spokesperson said Kistulentz was fired from that position after his arrest.

Kistulentz worked at the University of Tampa for two years before joining Saint Leo in 2015.

This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

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