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Sheriff: Assistant principal sent lewd pic to Manatee boy

MANATEE — An assistant principal at a Tampa high school has been arrested on a charge she sent a lewd photograph of herself to a 14-year-old Manatee boy she met online, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies arrested Lauren Tilo, 30, at her Tampa home, at 6 a.m. Thursday on a charge of transmission of harmful materials to a child.

Tilo is listed as assistant principal of student affairs at Middleton High School in Tampa. She was booked into the Hillsborough County jail and later released on $10,000 bond.

The teenage boy went to officials at his middle school in Manatee on Wednesday, and said that Tilo had sent him a cell phone text message with a photo attached showing “her in a provocative and sexual pose,” a sheriff’s report states. Detectives said the photo was sent on March 7 showed Tilo exposing herself.

Tilo and the boy met online in February while playing a video game, and they became friends, the boy told detectives. The boy said he told her his age, and she claimed to be 28. Investigators do not believe the two have ever met face to face, but they had numerous sexually explicit conversations by telephone, according to the sheriff’s report.

Sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow declined to say why the boy reported the picture to school officials more than two months after receiving it.

“He became upset about something and he decided to report it,” Bristow said. “And we are fortunate he did because who knows what could have happened if he didn’t.”

Bristow declined to say which school the boy attends in an effort to protect the boy’s identity.

Manatee County School District spokeswoman Margi Nanney declined comment on the facts of the case, but she also praised the boy for reporting the picture to school officials.

“He definitely did the right thing. Any student who feels compromised in any way should come to us,” Nanney said.

Meanwhile, Tilo has been placed on paid administrative leave by the Hillsborough County School District. It is expected that she will placed on unpaid leave during the next Hillsborough County School Board meeting June 15, according to district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe.

Tilo’s biography, however, remained on the Middleton High School Web site on Thursday, saying she attended Kathleen High School in Lakeland, earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of South Florida, and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

She started working at Middleton in 2003, where she taught English and advanced placement literature, and served as the language arts department head for two years.

In September 2009, she was appointed assistant principal of student affairs, according to the website.

Bristow said detectives are investigating whether there are more possible victims. Anyone with information on Tilo can call the sheriff’s office at 747-3011, or Crimestoppers at 866-634-TIPS.