Former Arlington principal had pornographic images on district iPad

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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An open website featuring pornographic videos of young men engaging in sexual acts was found on an iPad issued to a former Arlington elementary school principal who was arrested last week in Florida on suspicion of soliciting sex from an undercover officer posing as a teenage boy.

Stephen Paulsen, 54, was arrested in Boynton Beach last week. He appeared before a federal judge in Florida on Tuesday on a criminal complaint of attempting to entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, according to federal court documents.

The outcome of a detention hearing scheduled before a federal judge was not available late Tuesday, but an arraignment hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2, according to the clerk’s office of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Since his arrest, Paulsen, who served as principal at Morton Elementary School for two years, has resigned. Paulsen’s attorney, Gregg Lerman, declined to comment Tuesday.

After Paulsen’s arrest, a Morton technology manager told authorities that he found the website of pornographic videos while repairing Paulsen’s school district-issued iPad last year. The tech manager said he also saw 20 to 30 websites on the iPad’s browser history that included words like “boys caught on tape” and “young men,” according to court documents.

Internet task force

The charge against Paulsen stems from an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Boynton Beach Police Department and the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Paulsen started chatting with the police officer July 12 — using the screen name “Tony Texas” — and the conversation continued for several days, according to the arrest warrant. He thought the boy was 15.

In the online chat, Paulsen made explicit comments about sexual acts and sent the detective photos of two naked men who appeared to be engaged in a sex act, according to the affidavit. Paulsen then tried to meet the child, who he believed was home alone in South Florida, investigators said.

Paulsen was arrested after parking his van near the address that the boy gave him. He had a condom in his wallet, according to police.

‘Never guessed’

Two school employees’ written accounts about what was allegedly found on the iPad were presented Tuesday as part of the detention hearing.

The technology manager said that he found the data while repairing the iPad in 2012 and that it included “young male pornographic videos of homosexual content.”

The technology manager said that he told a fellow school employee about the inappropriate website and that she decided to ask Paulsen about it directly.

When Paulsen was confronted, he reportedly seemed surprised and suggested that a neighborhood kid who was visiting his sons during the weekend may have accessed the website, according to court documents.

The tech manager said in his testimony that he did not report the incident to school administration because Paulsen’s explanation seemed believable.

The manager wrote that he “could have never guessed that this was a continuing problem or issue that Mr. Paulsen had.”

But he later said that he now feels that “[Paulsen] not only deceived me in that situation but friends and colleagues that he worked with …”

School district spokeswoman Leslie Johnston said Tuesday that the district was not aware of the inappropriate content on the iPad before the arrest.

“The AISD continues to investigate in conjunction with law enforcement and is ensuring appropriate reporting procedures are followed,” Johnston said in a statement.

A new principal has not been named.

Paulsen said he was in Florida visiting his parents.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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