by Julie Montanaro
September 9, 11:40pm
A veteran teacher at Maclay School has been arrested in what deputies call one of the biggest child pornography cases Leon County has ever seen.
Chemistry teacher Richard Saunders is facing 100 counts of possession of child pornography, and deputies say that may be only the beginning. Deputies confronted 54-year-old Richard Saunders at his home on Shangri La Lane late Saturday afternoon, and Saunders handed over more than 100 computer discs.
Deputies say they scanned the first one and found more than 100 obscene pictures of children.
Leon County Sheriff's Office SGT Tim Baxter was there.
"He went into a closet, brought out a notebook, turned it over to us. It had 123 discs in it, or in the folder. We carried that back to our office, viewed one of the discs just as a sampling and found over 100 images of child pornography on that disc."
Saunders teaches chemistry at Maclay High School. Headmaster Bill Jablon says Saunders is a photography buff and often took pictures at sporting events and school activities and then gave the pictures to students as keepsakes.
This time deputies say Saunders handed out discs to two students and two faculty members that contained much more than they bargained for.
"It appeared that they were actually part of a volleyball game, players in action, but he didn't realize that he did in fact include child porn on this, or suspected child porn," said LCSO SGT Chris Chase.
Right now Saunders faces 100 counts of possession of child porn, but there are more than 100 discs deputies and FDLE have yet to review, and they're urging Maclay students to review any discs they may have received from Saunders.
Deputies say the pictures primarily feature young girls from toddlers to teens. Right now they appear to be images downloaded from the Internet and not pictures of students, but again there are still many discs to review.
This case unfolded in a matter of hours. The headmaster at Maclay, Bill Jablon, got a phone call from a parent Saturday morning about 10 a.m. and by 3 p.m. sheriff's deputies were at Saunders’ door.
Jablon is stunned. He says Saunders has taught at Maclay for 23 years. He calls it a shame and a waste of a career. He says Saunders is suspended without pay for now, but he has no intention of allowing him back on campus.