A Florida elementary school teacher and the son of the Jacksonville City Council president has been arrested on more than two dozen child pornography charges, according to local reports.
Thomas Hazouri Jr., 40, faces 25 counts of possession of child pornography.
“It is both alarming and disappointing to learn that one of our teachers is alleged to have exploited children through such abhorrent activities,” Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Diana Greene told Jacksonville-based Action News. “As soon as we learned of the investigation, we took immediate action to ensure he had no further interaction with any of our students.”
Hazouri has spent much of the last 15 years teaching second-, fourth- and fifth-grade students at Kernan Trail Elementary School, the outlet reported. He also taught fourth grade at Englewood Elementary in the 2018 to 2019 school year, and was most recently teaching second-graders at Mayport Elementary.
In addition to the child pornography, investigators said they found “non-exploitive” pictures that appeared to have been taken in a Mayport classroom, Jacksonville.com reported.
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The school’s principal, Katie O’Connell, sent a letter to parents regarding the case, saying she had not been given many details, but that Hazouri had been reassigned “out of the classroom” as soon as she learned of an investigation.
“I am beyond disappointed to share this news,” she wrote.
According to the arrest warrant, investigators received a tip back in July from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that linked him to an email address used in the uploads of five illicit images.
Authorities searched his home on Aug. 6, and items seized during the investigation allegedly contained more images of child pornography, according to the Jacksonville.com report.
Hazouri’s attorney, Henry Coxe, declined to comment on the pending charges but said that his client’s bond had been reduced from $625,000 to $25,000 at a Thursday hearing.
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Hazouri is also the son of Democratic Jacksonville City Council president and former Mayor Thomas Hazouri Sr., according to multiple local reports.
The older Hazouri also served as a state representative and on the Duval County School Board and is reportedly recovering from lung transplant surgery he underwent last month.
He told the local outlet First Coast News that he is “not going to comment to the media on something that’s a family matter.”
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