BROOKSVILLE — A retired Land O’ Lakes High School teacher was arrested Wednesday when he drove to a Brooksville motel to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said.
Robert Edward Smith, 61, 26507 State Road 52, San Antonio, participated in long-term computer chats with a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, the sheriff’s office said.
He was arrested around 1:50 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express on Cortez Boulevard, where he planned to meet the girl for sex, the sheriff’s office said.
The incident left Sheriff Al Nienhuis repulsed.
“Words cannot express how disgusting it is to think that this person was attempting to prey upon a vulnerable Hernando County child,” Nienhuis said in a news release.
“Our citizens can rest assured that we will continually work to do everything reasonable to keep child predators away from our children and behind bars where they belong.”
The sheriff’s office “reminds parents to always monitor any conversations their children are having with adults, whether in person or via social media,” the news release said.
Smith was charged with attempted lewd and lascivious behavior, traveling to meet and seduce a minor, and transmitting information harmful to a minor, records show. He was being held in the Hernando County Jail on Thursday with bond set at $17,000.
If Smith makes bail, he will be monitored by GPS and will be allowed no contact with anyone under 18, records show.
The sheriff’s office is investigating whether or not Smith has other victims. Court records indicate that Smith has no previous arrests in either Hernando or Pasco counties.
Details of an arrest report indicate that Smith wanted to meet the girl at the motel to give her a massage, and possibly have sex.
When he was arrested, Smith had a Viagra pill in a sandwich bag in his pocket, a box of Trojan condoms and a blue Mountain Dew, the report said. He arrived at the motel in a 1998 Ford pickup and wore a cowboy hat, the report said.
Smith was an agriculture and social studies teacher at Land O’ Lakes High from 2007 to 2012, according to Linda Cobbe, spokeswoman for the Pasco School District. His teaching certification expired at the end of the 2011-2012 school year, and he did not renew it, Cobbe said.
There were no disciplinary actions against Smith while he worked for the Pasco school district, Cobbe said.