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Principal arrested on child pornography charges, officials say

Spessard Holland Elementary Principal Ricky Sheppard arrested

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A 35-year career with Brevard County schools is gone with one search of a Melbourne home.

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office announced Friday the child pornography arrest of Spessard Holland Elementary Principal Ricky Sheppard.

"I'm sickened by it," Sheriff Wayne Ivey said during a press conference at the school board offices in Viera.

"Words can't adequately express just how saddened and disgusted I am," added Superintendent Desmond Blackburn.

The sheriff said his investigators got a warrant to search Sheppard's Melbourne home. Inside, the sheriff said, they found hundreds of child porn pictures on the 59-year-old's computer.

"Everything that we have at this point indicates a history of child pornography," Ivey said.

Sheppard was arrested and taken into federal custody.

He's a 35-year employee of Brevard Schools, one year of that as Holland's principal.

He previously got in trouble in 1999. Sheppard was a teacher at Gemini Elementary in Melbourne Beach when he was reprimanded for inappropriate behavior involving gifts he gave and comments he made to a first-grader.

"I look at this case and I find it hard to understand," Ivey said.

Leaders say Sheppard has been fired and is expected to soon be permanently removed from Brevard Schools.

"I will be bringing a recommendation to our school board at our very next meeting to remove him permanently," Blackburn said.

That meeting is Tuesday, June 14.

Neighbors told News 6 they've lived next to Sheppard for more than 30 years and said he was a quiet guy and usually kept to himself.

"Known him my whole life. Never bothered us. Never troubled us," one neighbor said. "He was always a good neighbor."

Neighbors said they were shocked Friday morning to see U.S. marshals raiding his home. They were even more disturbed to hear it was for child pornography.

"How much do you really know your neighbors, only the ones you really associate with, you know," said one neighbor.

"My kids went to Creole. They're now older, but they went to Creole and he was assistant principal there and I was like, 'Oh my God. I have to check with my kids.' But they said he was no problem, that he was very nice," said another neighbor.

"You don't know what goes on in somebody's house," a neighbor said. "Everybody has computers. Everybody has tablets."

"I feel bad for him and his family. He just screwed himself, excuse me, but he just ruined his life, for what? Looking at pictures of kids? Come on. He could've had a girl, a woman," added a neighbor.

Sheppard is being held at the Seminole County jail. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.