MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL ARRESTED IN CHILD EXPLOITATION CASE
Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are seeking the public’s help to identify possible additional victims in a child sexual exploitation investigation involving an assistant principal at Cypress Creek Middle High School in Pasco County, Florida. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Kyle Ritsema, 36, of Land O’Lakes, pleaded guilty today to producing, distributing and possessing child pornography. He was arrested Feb. 13 by HSI special agents.
This investigation has revealed that there may be multiple child victims, as well as a public health concern. Any person who had unprotected sexual contact with Ritsema, or any person who was, or knows of someone who may have been, a possible child victim is urged to contact HSI at 1-866-DHS-2ICE
According to court documents, starting at least as early as November 2014 until his arrest in February 2018, Ritsema enticed a 14-year-old child on the internet application “Grindr.” Ritsema knew that the boy was a minor during the time when they were in contact. Ritsema met the child in person and had sex with him on at least five occasions over the course of approximately one year. On one such occasion, Ritsema had sex with the child and used his smartphone to take several explicit photos of the child. That same day, Ritsema shared graphic details of that encounter and transmitted the explicit photos to multiple other individuals.
Beginning in March 2017, and continuing until his arrest in this case, Ritsema had been an Assistant Principal (Vice Principal) at Cypress Creek Middle High School in Pasco County. Before holding that position, Ritsema was the Assistant Principal at Pine View Middle School (appointed in July 2015), an Assistant Principal Administrative Intern at River Ridge Middle School (appointed in January 2015), and a math teacher and math coach at Paul R. Smith Middle School, Gulf Highland Elementary School, and Seven Springs Middle School (beginning in 2006).
This case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Middle District Florida Assistant United States Attorney Frank Murray.
Ritsema faces a minimum mandatory of 15 years, and up to 30 years, for producing child pornography, a minimum mandatory term of 5 years, and up to 20 years, in federal prison for each of the two child pornography distribution charges, and a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for the possession charge. In total, Ritsema faces up to 80 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2017, more than 2,700 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 900 victims identified or rescued.