By Bill Koch | The Daily Commercial
Lawyers will discuss the upcoming trial of a former school volunteer and Villages resident at a 9 am conference next Monday in Sumter County circuit court.
Judge Hale Stancil will preside at the pre-trial conference. A trial date has not yet been set.
A team of investigators from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI’s Innocent Images Task Force retrieved thousands of explicit images and movies of children from Kidney’s computer hardware and software at the time of his arrest. The retrieval was one of FDLE’s largest.
A parent’s complaint that Kidney made inappropriate Internet contact with a young girl launched the investigation.
“He had thousands of images we are analyzing,” said sheriff’s Capt Gary Brannen at the time.
“Authorities used more than 40 compact discs to download images from Kidney’s computer, making the case the largest of its kind in Sumter’s history,” Brannen said.
Kidney was released following his arrest after posting $110,000 bond.
The Sumter County School Board honored Kidney as its volunteer-of-the-year four times in the school years prior to his arrest. Kidney worked at North Sumter Intermediate School and later at North Sumter Primary School in Wildwood for more than six years.
Lt Col Kidney was an active member of the Civil Air Patrol in Florida Wing for many years at the Lake Composite Squadron in Leesburg Airport, FL. He served as the Cadet Programs Officer to where he had direct access to the youth. In 1994 and 1999, he was selected by National CAP Headquarters as an International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) Escort where he chaperoned several CAP youth to Europe.
He never married and had no children.
After his arrest Kidney said “he didn’t know it was against the law to collect pornographic images of children.” He also said “he was able to separate his private habits from his volunteering.”
“My understanding of this is it was not illegal as long as I didn’t distribute it or show it to underage people,” he said. “As long as I kept it in my home, it was my business. I know now it’s wrong.”
Sumter County school officials had the district’s volunteer procedures reviewed by the sheriff’s office and FDLE following Kidney’s arrest, said School Board Member Linda Winchester.
“There was no indication that we could have done anything to prevent this,” she said.
Kidney had no prior arrests.
The school district requires volunteer applicants undergo background checks by the sheriff’s office and be fingerprinted.
He was convicted on 11 July 2003 and again on 25 January 2006 for possessing child pornography.