AP

Sheriff: Hotline counselor sent obscene pics to teen caller

Apr 21, 2022, 7:30 PM | Updated: Apr 22, 2022, 8:09 am

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A crisis hotline counselor in Florida sent obscene material to a teenager who called asking for help, sheriff’s officials said.

The teen called the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s 211 hotline around 9:30 p.m. on March 28. She left her contact information so an intervention specialist could return the call, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s officials said in a news release.

A man called back and introduced himself as a counselor at the center named “William,” and they spoke for about an hour on a recorded line, the release said. He soon called again, from a restricted phone number, telling the girl he was just checking on her, the release said.

During additional phone calls, he got the girl’s Instagram username, and followed her. He began sending direct messages to her, including explicit videos and photos, the sheriff’s office said. He then asked her to send naked photos of herself. She refused and reported the incident to a school resource deputy the next day.

Investigators discovered that the man who called himself William had actually begun working at the center about two months earlier under his real name. His cellphone was searched after a subpoena was issued and investigators confirmed the teen’s account of the phone calls, the release said.

Detectives then questioned the man and he confessed, they said.

He is accused of transmission of harmful material to a minor and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.

The crisis center said in a statement that the man passed background checks before he was hired. He has been fired.

“We are deeply saddened by the actions of this former employee but thankful the victim had a resource available in the community that protected them,” Clara Reynolds, the center’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We are so sorry that a vulnerable person was hurt because it goes directly against what we work for every day.”

Detectives are concerned there could be additional victims. Sheriff’s officials said the man also worked as a volunteer worship leader at Iglesia Adoración Y Palabra Jesucristo Es El Señor in nearby Wesley Chapel.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image: An Alaska Airlines passenger jet approaches to land at the Los Angeles International Airport...

Associated Press

Man accused of stabbing another passenger on a flight from Seattle to Las Vegas charged

A man who witnesses say stabbed another passenger on an airline flight in January told authorities he intended to kill the victim.

2 days ago

Image: Dr. Candice Matthews, left, listens as Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds, right, with Darryl Geo...

Associated Press

Judge: Texas school legally punished Black student over hairstyle

A Black high school student's punishment by his Texas district for refusing to change his hairstyle doesn't violate state law, a judge said.

2 days ago

The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exc...

Associated Press

Boeing ousts head of 737 jetliner program weeks after panel blowout on flight

Boeing said the head of its 737 program is leaving the company in an executive shake-up weeks after a door panel blew out on a flight over Oregon.

3 days ago

Image: The Alabama State Capitol is seen on May 15, 2019 in Montgomery, Alabama....

Associated Press

Alabama Supreme Court rules frozen embryos are ‘children’ under state law

Critics say the Alabama embryo ruling may have sweeping implications for fertility treatments.

4 days ago

Image: People take cover during a shooting at Union Station during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bow...

Associated Press

Two men charged with murder at Kansas City Chiefs parade

Minutes after Kansas City Chiefs players spoke at a victory celebration Wednesday, multiple people near the parade route were carried away on stretchers.

4 days ago

Image: A sign is on display above an ATM at a Capital One Café in Miami on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. ...

Associated Press

Capital One to buy Discover for $35B in deal combining major US credit card companies

The deal would bring together two of the nation's credit card companies as well as potentially shake up the payments industry.

4 days ago

Sheriff: Hotline counselor sent obscene pics to teen caller