The Polk County Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit arrested John Stelmack, the principal of
Scott Lake Elementary School in Lakeland, DOB 2/4/47, this morning, December 21,
2007, at his residence 5749 Deer Track Trail in Lakeland, after investigation revealed he
created and possessed child pornography.
Stelmack was suspended from his job as principal by the Polk County School Board on
Friday, December 14, 2007, for an administrative investigation. During their administrative
investigation they seized a black briefcase from his office, and on Wednesday, December
19, 2007, the school board superintendant contacted PCSO in regards to what they found
in that briefcase.
Inside the briefcase were 5 images of child pornography created by Stelmack. Stelmack
took routine photographs of children in a school setting — one of whom was positively
identified as a 10-year-old student who attended Scott Lake Elementary last year — and
digitally superimposed their heads onto nude images. The identified girl’s facial image was
on four of the pictures, and another unidentified female child’s face was placed on the
body of another nude image. The investigation is ongoing.
Stelmack is married and has 2 adult children. He came to Polk County from the New York
state school system. He is being booked into the Polk County Jail today for 5 counts of
Possession of Child Pornography, and will have bond set at $100,000. Detectives are
serving a search warrant at his home and further charges may be filed against him depending
on what is found during the search warrant.
“The photographs that Stelmack manipulated into child pornography are graphic and repulsive,”
said Sheriff Grady Judd. “To think that a school principal, someone who is entrusted
with the safety and well-being of hundreds of school children, would do something
like this is incomprehensible.”