ARLINGTON — An Arlington elementary school principal was arrested Tuesday in Boynton Beach, Florida after he allegedly sent numerous sexually-explicit online messages to an officer working undercover, posing as a minor online.
Stephen Paulsen, 54, resigned as principal of Morton Elementary School in the Arlington Independent School District on Wednesday after being charged with transmission of harmful material to a minor, online solicitation of a minor, and traveling to meet a minor to commit an unlawful sex act — all of which are felonies.
"Any time anyone in a position of trust and authority over children is engaged in some type of criminal activity — allegedly where they are soliciting a minor for sex —it raises a strong concern," said Greg Schiller of the Florida State Attorney's Office.
Paulsen allegedly began chatting with the undercover officer on July 12. The officer — who was posing as a boy under 16 years old — said in the probable cause affidavit he received a private message from the screen name "Tony Texas." The suspect asked the officer what he was looking for and what he liked to do with guys, and said he "liked newbies so anxious to explore it all."
According to the document, Paulsen told the undercover officer he was from Texas and visiting his parents, including his father with Alzheimer's, in Florida. The suspect told the officer he could get in trouble because he was over 21 and the boy was under 17, and asked when the undercover officer's next birthday would be.
The affidavit details multiple pornographic images of other men Paulsen allegedly sent the officer over the course of the next several days, and well as many extremely sexually-explicit messages. On Tuesday, "Tony Texas" told the undercover officer it was a "good day to lose your virginity" before asking how long he would be home alone.
The officer gave "Tony Texas" a location, and the suspect told him he was nervous because he was under 17, but arrived at the location in a white van with Texas plates.
According to the document, upon seeing the officer, Paulsen spontaneously told him "I [expletive] up," and said his wife would kill him. Paulsen had a condom in his pocket, police said.
Parents who have children at Morton were stunned.
"I've had five kids go there. Just disturbing," said Eduardo Hernandez, who lives a block up from the school.
Other parents told News 8 Paulsen would frequently host after-school and open-house type events at the school. He has been the principal at Morton for two years, and has been employed by the district for eight.
"He always seemed very friendly," said one parent.
Paulsen is in Palm Beach County Jail. Bond has not been set, and he will have his next court appointment on Friday.
No one came to the door at his Fort Worth home on Wednesday evening.
Arlington ISD released this brief statement on Wednesday afternoon:
"Today, the Arlington Independent School District is reporting the arrest of Stephen Paulsen to the State Board for Educator Certification. The AISD also accepted Paulsen’s resignation, effective immediately. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement officials. As this matter involves an active police investigation, the AISD will not make any further comment."