On Thursday, September 6, 2012, Polk County Sheriff's Special Victims detectives arrested 36-year-old Dale Pennington of Haines City, and charged him with 16 counts Transmission of Material Harmful to a Minor; 15 counts Use of Computer to Seduce a Child; 15 counts Unlawful Use of 2-Way Communication Device; and 1 count Traveling to Meet a Minor.
The investigation began when a confidential source called PCSO to report that the source found inappropriate email and text conversations between Pennington and a 16-year-old girl he taught during the 2011-2012 school year at Ridge Community High School in Davenport.
Detectives interviewed Pennington, who confessed that since May 2012, last year's school year, he began emailing and texting a 16-year-old World History student of his. The girl is not a student of his this school year, however, the email and text conversations have been ongoing for the past five months. The conversations were extremely graphic in nature. Pennington also sent the girl a link to an adult pornographic video.
Pennington has been booked into the Polk County Jail. He will have a first appearance hearing on Friday, September 7th.
"This type of behavior absolutely disgusts us," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "When we hear these type of allegations against anyone who is placed in a position of trust and authority, we immediately investigate to determine whether or not the allegations are true. In this case, Dale Pennington abused his position of trust in an attempt to seduce a 16-year-old child, and now he is in jail where he belongs."
Detectives are continuing their investigation to determine whether or not Pennington committed any other crimes against any other children. They have also seized his computers and phones, and further charges are pending based upon a forensic examination of these electronic devices.