A North Texas high school teacher arrested Tuesday and charged with possession of child pornography allegedly admitted to authorities that he downloaded illicit images of minors onto his home computer and shared them.
Dante Pinto Schmidt, who taught high school English in the Richardson Independent School District, was taken into custody early Tuesday morning on one count of possessing child pornography. Detectives with the Collin County Sheriff’s Office and the Plano Police Department apprehended the suspect in his home.
Police said they initiated an investigation after receiving a tip that Schmidt, 41, downloaded and shared child pornography. Subsequently, officers obtained a warrant and searched Schmidt’s residence in nearby Allen on Monday evening. Amid their inspection, the accused admitted to possessing salacious images of minors, according to NBC DFW. He also told the officers where to find the computer he used to download and share the felonious materials. Detectives seized the computer as evidence. They will conduct a forensic examination of the device as part of this case.
Collin County Jail records show Schmidt was officially charged with possession of child pornography. He was later released on $10,000 bail. Reportedly, he may face additional charges. In Texas, possession of child pornography is generally considered a third degree felony if an individual has not been previously convicted for this offense. One count of child pornography possession can carry a prison sentence between two and 10 years, a $10,00o fine, or both.
For three years, Schmidt taught English at Lake Highlands High School in the Dallas area suburb. In September, the Richardson ISD board of trustees congratulated Schmidt for receiving top honors as Rhetoric Teacher of the Year from the University of Texas at Austin’s OnRamps, a dual-enrollment program that allows students to simultaneously complete high school while obtaining college credits. Each year, the university recognizes six outstanding teachers in the state’s public school system.
Lake Highlands High School Principal Joshua Delich sent home a letter to parents apprising them of the unfortunate matter. He stated that no prior child porn allegations were ever lodged against Schmidt during his tenure with the school district.
“We learned today that a teacher, Mr. Dante Schmidt, was arrested early this morning by the Collin County Sheriff’s Department and charged with the offense of child pornography.”
Delich noted that local law enforcement officers told school district officials they did not believe any of Schmidt’s high school students were potential victims or connected to the investigation.
“Because of the serious nature of this charge, we wanted to alert you as soon as possible,” continued Delich. “The Plano Police Department has indicated this charge does not involve or relate to any students at Lake Highlands High School or Richardson ISD. Nothing of this nature has previously been reported or alleged about Mr. Schmidt during his three years at our school. Richardson ISD immediately placed Mr. Schmidt on administrative leave pending the resolution of this situation.”
Although the school district placed Schmidt on administrative leave, the teacher resigned following his arrest, according to The Dallas Morning News.
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