A local attorney and former volunteer coach at East Lake High School is facing charges of child abuse and possession of child pornography.
Frederick T. Lowe, 56, of Palm Harbor was arrested early Saturday morning on allegations he abused a 16-year-old student on the basketball team. Lowe volunteered with the junior varsity basketball team as an assistant coach and also worked as a real estate an criminal attorney.
"This guy and this stuff is about as sick as it gets," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a press conference Saturday.
Detectives began investigating the case on Oct. 20, when they received information from Pinellas County Schools Police regarding a possible child abuse case involving Lowe.
Over the course of their investigation, they discovered the teenager was being mentored by Lowe at his Palm Harbor home. Lowe had called the teenager a "bad boy" and made him remove his clothing in front of him and wear a diaper as punishment for being disruptive and disrespectful at school.
During the time period between April and September, when the boy was being mentored at Lowe's home, detectives say Lowe disciplined the boy about five times. The discipline allegedly included making the boy urinate in the diaper, which Lowe then changed it as if the boy was a baby.
"With this guy being a lawyer, an officer of the court, member of the Florida Bar, somebody who is supposed to protect others' rights and this sick guy has devastated and traumatized this 16-year-old boy," Gualtieri said.
Detectives said they also recovered a text message that Lowe sent to the teenager that contained sexual innuendo, and that on several occasions, Lowe kissed the boy on the mouth and told him he loved him.
Detectives say they learned Lowe had a history of looking at child pornography, and that he had previously propositioned another boy for a sex act.
Lowe was arrested early Saturday morning at his home on one count of child abuse and three counts of possession of child pornography. Detectives said they found several pornographic images of children engaged on sex acts on Lowe's home computer.
Lowe quit his job when the investigation started in October.
Anyone with more information - or who may be a past victim - is asked to call Detective William Kenna or Corporal Mike Kolenda of the Crimes Against Children Unit at 727-582-6200. To remain anonymous contact Crime Stoppers at 1800-873-TIPS.
Additional charges may be forthcoming. The investigation continues.