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Largo police: Pinellas school teacher arrested on child pornography charges

Robert James Plotkin, a 57-year-old teacher at Clearwater Intermediate, was arrested Tuesday on 10 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of tampering with physical evidence, according to Largo police. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
Published Mar. 29, 2017

LARGO — A sixth-grade social studies teacher was arrested Tuesday after police said they found child pornography on his computer.

The pornography, which police said was found on the personal laptop of Robert James Plotkin, was downloaded from the Internet and included images of children ages 3 to 17. But none of the teacher's students were included in those images, said Largo police Lt. Joe Coyle.

The 57-year-old Plotkin has been a teacher since 2012 at Clearwater Intermediate, a dropout prevention middle school at 1220 Palmetto St.

Police first responded to Plotkin's apartment March 15 after his roommate called to report that she had found child pornography on the teacher's personal laptop.

Plotkin knew officers were on the way, police said, because his roommate told him she reported him. The teacher then threw his laptop in a lake near his apartment at 225 Country Club Drive, police said. When officers arrived, Plotkin told them his computer was in the lake. Then he retrieved it for them, police said.

Officers took the laptop but did not arrest Plotkin. A cyber crimes investigator later retrieved images from the hard drive showing pornography involving children ages 3 to 17, police said.

On Tuesday, officers interviewed Plotkin at Clearwater Intermediate. They took him to the Largo Police Department where he was arrested. He faces 10 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

Pinellas County Schools spokeswoman Lisa Wolf said Plotkin has had no disciplinary issues since he was hired as a substitute in 2011. He has been placed on paid leave, Wolf said.

Plotkin was booked into the Pinellas County jail. If he is freed on bail, he will be placed in a school district job where he will not work with any students.

Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or kvarn@tampabay.com. Follow @kathrynvarn.

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