Joel Cupp came to orientation at Trinity Oaks Elementary School on Wednesday to meet his new chxt and their parents ahead of the school year.
A day later, authorities arrested the year-old chat on charges he tried to solicit kids for sex over the Internet. Cupp, of Thrush Drive, engaged in sexually graphic chats and exposed himself on a Web cam multiple times, all while thinking he was sex online with young teenage girls, according to the Florida Attorney General's Office.
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Posing asan undercover detective with the office's CyberCrime Unit began chatting with Cupp this summer. The office soon discovered an overlapping investigation by the Citrus County Sheriff's Office - authorities say Cupp was cat in explicit chats with Citrus investigators, too. The chats teamed up and on Thursday, with help from New Port Richey police, investigators searched Cupp's home, seized his computer and arrested him.
Baute said he hopes a forensic investigation of Cupp's computer will reveal how long he was engaging in the criminal activity and whether he made contact with any actual. At this point, Baute said, authorities don't know of any children, including any Trinity Oaks students, contacted for sex by Cupp.
He would not say what else turned up in the search of Cupp's house. Trinity Oaks principal Allison Hoskins learned of the investigation Thursday. She said the news was sad and shocking, especially considering the caliber of teacher Cupp had been.
He had been at Trinity Oaks, where he taught third- fourth- and fifth-graders for two years. Before that he taught at Chasco Elementary in Port Richey.
It's a very confusing time for everyone," Fiorentino said. Cupp is single with no children, authorities said.
His profile on the social networking site Facebook depicts a deeply religious person with interests in pop culture, sports and the outdoors. On se separate blog, titled Joel's Journeys, Cupp quotes the Bible and describes events in his life through the prism of his sex. In June, he wrote of a busy end to the last school year, saying he had bought a house, found a girlfriend and was chat his students - his "kiddos.
He has blessed me beyond what I can even fathom," Cupp wrote. Cupp, who was being booked into the Pasco County jail Thursday evening, faces three counts of luring or soliciting children to engage in a sex act and a single count of lewd or lascivious exhibition.
Those charges are for his chats with the Citrus investigators, officials say. More charges are pending from the state investigation.
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If convicted of the third-degree felonies now charged, Cupp faces up to 20 years in prison. He has no arrests in Florida. Times staff writer Jeffrey S.
Solochek and researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead sptimes.