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Hillsborough Co. elementary principal accused of sending explicit texts to undercover detective

According to the sheriff's office, the detective portrayed themselves as a 15-year-old boy.

RIVERVIEW, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says its arrested a local principal who sent explicit texts to an undercover detective disguised as a teenager.  

Law enforcement says from Jan. 19 to Jan. 27, Derrick McLaughlin, 41, texted the undercover detective on a social media app. According to the sheriff's office, the detective portrayed themselves as a 15-year-old boy. 

McLaughlin, authorities say, is the principal at Dawson Elementary School in Riverview.

Over the course of their conversation, investigators say McLaughlin attempted to persuade the undercover detective to perform sexual acts. 

According to the sheriff's office, McLaughlin was arrested on Thursday and faces several charges including transmitting harmful material to a minor. Authorities say McLaughlin is under a Baker Act after making suicidal comments during his arrest.

"It’s sickening that a trusted member of our community, a school principal, would take advantage of a child for his own self-gratification," Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news release. 

"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."

At this time, investigators say there is no indication of any other victims. However, the investigation is still ongoing.

In a statement, Hillsborough County Public Schools says McLaughlin was hired on Dec. 16, 2002. The school district adds that he is on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

"We are shocked and deeply troubled by the charges filed against Derrick McLaughlin. Our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of students and staff," the school district wrote.