Pinellas Teacher Arrested in Largo for Child Porn

Robert James Plotkin Clearwater Teacher Arrested for Child Pornography

Robert James Plotkin, a teacher since 2012 at Clearwater Intermediate, a dropout prevention middle school at 1220 Palmetto St. in Clearwater, Florida has been arrested and is being charged with on 10 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of tampering with physical evidence, according to Largo police.

Local police were tipped off about Plotkin on March 15 after his roommate called police to notify them that she had spotted child pornography on Plotkin’s laptop.  Plotkin knew officers were on the way, police said, because his roommate told him she reported him. The teacher then threw his laptop in a lake near his apartment at 225 Country Club Drive, police said. When officers arrived, Plotkin told them his computer was in the lake. Then he retrieved it for them, police said.

Officers took the laptop but did not arrest Plotkin. A cyber crimes investigator later retrieved images from the hard drive showing pornography involving children ages 3 to 17, police said.  “This is 2017. It’s not gonna happen,” said Largo Police Lieutenant Joe Coyle, referring to Plotkin’s efforts to destroy the evidence. “You’re not going to throw a computer in the water and think that you’re gonna erase all your images.”

Plotkin has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the criminal charges.

Plotkin’s Facebook page has no entries but states that he is originally from Ohio.

Child pornography is a scourge on our society and our community in particular.  It endangers our children and the harm wrought by child sexual abuse leaves life-long scars.

 

Photo Credit by WTSP Tampa Bay Sarasota News

Pennsylvania Senate Passes Legislation to Expand Statute of Limitation on Sex Abuse Cases

Pennsylvania Senate Passes Legislation to Expand Statute of Limitations on Sex Abuse Cases

In a vote of 48-0, the Pennsylvania state Senate has approved legislation that would give survivors of child sexual abuse an opportunity to seek justice in the civil courts.

The bill, which essentially reopens an old debate with the state House in the new legislative session, would give child victims until age 50 to bring civil lawsuits against abusers or those employers who were allegedly negligent in failing to stop them.

At present, the window to sue expires at age 30.  It would also eliminate any statute of limitations on criminal prosecutions for child sexual abuse.

The victory in the Senate does not mean that the legislation will necessarily become law in the Keystone State.  First, it must be reconciled with a much more restrictive bill in the House.  The House did add a retroactive provision in their bill which would give survivors a two year window to file sexual abuse lawsuits.

“We’re hopeful that the House will take it under careful consideration,” said Jennifer Kocher, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre. “We could move something forward for survivors of child sex abuse rather than offer them nothing.”

House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said the House will try to reach a consensus between the two chambers to “send a very strong bill with a strong message for victims to the governor.”

The new legislation comes in the wake of multiple grand jury investigations that have found hundreds of cases of sexual abuse involving Pennsylvania Catholic priests and the cover-up of the crimes by the state’s bishops over a period spanning the last fifty years.  Each Pennsylvania grand jury investigation has made it more difficult for the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania to deny or minimize the extend of the problem of child sex abuse in the state.

Photo Credit by Bestbudbrian via Wikimedia Commons

Judge Unseals USA Gymnastics Sex Abuse Files

A Georgia judge has ruled that files containing sexual abuse complaints against USA Gymnastics coaches, trainers, and officials should be made public.  

Just prior to the opening of the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, USA Gymnastics faced a firestorm over sexual abuse allegations concerning its young gymnasts.  

The allegations became public after IndyStar broke the story earlier this summer.  The newspaper’s investigation found numerous incidents of sexual abuse as well as an organization policy that withheld turning over such complaints to law enforcement officials unless the complainant signed a complaint. Given the nature of the sexual abuse of children, the demand for a signed confession made it virtually impossible for police to investigate possible sex crimes involving USA Gymnastics.

USA Gymnastics plans to appeal Judge Ronald K. Thompson’s ruling.  Thompson agreed to unseal 54 sex abuse complaint files and 12 depositions taken in the case. He said he will review them first as a “safety precaution” to ensure sensitive information isn’t released by mistake.

The attorney for USA Gymnastics attacked the media during the court hearing stating that reporters were on a “witch hunt”.  

According to the IndyStar, “The documents are expected to shed further light on how USA Gymnastics handled sexual abuse allegations against coaches who were members of its organization, including whether the national governing body reported those allegations to authorities.  Kelly Cutright, who was abused as a teen by her gymnastics coach, said the judge’s order to release the files is ‘a good first step’ toward protecting kids who are part of USA Gymnastics now. She disagreed with the organization’s contention that there was a witch hunt.”

Transparency and information are two key elements in stopping the abuse and exploitation of children.  It’s reprehensible that USA Gymnastics would characterize the public release of these documents as anything short of a search for truth and justice.  

Image courtesy of http://cdn2.gbtimes.com/