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Elementary school principal charged after sexting undercover cop posing as a minor, police say

Derrick McLaughlin, a 41-year-old principal at Dawson Elementary School in Riverview, Florida,...
Derrick McLaughlin, a 41-year-old principal at Dawson Elementary School in Riverview, Florida, was arrested Jan. 27 and faces several charges.(Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 3:17 PM EST
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(Gray News) - An elementary school principal in Florida was arrested on multiple charges after police say he sent sexually explicit texts to undercover detectives who were posing as a minor.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said undercover detectives were portraying themselves as a 15-year-old boy in an online chat room from Jan. 19 to Jan. 27, trying to catch individuals attempting to exploit children.

Derrick McLaughlin, a 41-year-old principal at Dawson Elementary School in Riverview, Florida, initiated a text conversation on a social media app with the undercover detectives. Police said that McLaughlin attempted to entice the person he thought was a 15-year-old boy to engage in sex acts.

McLaughlin was arrested Jan. 27 and faces several charges related to the incident.

“It’s sickening that a trusted member of our community, a school principal, would take advantage of a child for his own self-gratification,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “Thankfully, it was not a child, but one of our detectives, who was on the receiving end of his obscene messages. No child should be subjected to the disturbing behavior put on display by McLaughlin.”

Police said there is no indication that McLaughlin had additional victims, but the investigation is ongoing.

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