A Brevard County principal who was charged with possession of child pornography was granted bond in federal court in downtown Orlando on Wednesday morning.
Ricky Sheppard, 59, is fighting back against federal possession of child pornography charges.
- Elementary school principal Ricky Sheppard accused of child porn possession
- Investigators say they found thousands of images, videos on his computers
- Sheppard's attorney: Client is not the only one with access to those computers
"Just because there's something on your computer doesn't mean you're the one that put it there," said James Smith, who is serving as Sheppard's defense attorney.
At the time of his arrest last week, Sheppard was the principal at Spessard Holland Elementary School in Brevard County.
Federal prosecutors have charged Sheppard with having thousands of child pornography images and videos on two computers at his home in Melbourne.
A digital forensic expert with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office testified that most of the videos are of young boys, between the ages of 4 to 12, performing sex acts or being raped. One of the videos included bestiality.
However, Sheppard's defense attorney said other people had access to his client's computer.
"The issue in this case is not going to be whether or not there's child pornography on the computer, but who put it there, how did it get there?” Smith said. “This wouldn't be the first case where someone is accused of child pornography on a computer and then later on, after an independent forensic view, you can see that the evidence is there because someone else put it there."
According to Brevard Public Schools, Sheppard has one official written reprimand for inappropriate gifts and comments to a first grade student back in 1999. That interaction was not deemed to be sexual in nature.
As a condition of his release, Sheppard will not be allowed to use the internet. He will also be on GPS monitoring. Sheppard will also not be allowed to have any contact with minors without the presence of a responsible adult.
Sheppard's attorney said his client has no prior criminal history and a sterling reputation in the community.
"People should just judge Mr. Sheppard based on the Mr. Sheppard that they know. These are just allegations. He hasn't been indicted yet," Smith said.
"Please understand where we are right now in the process. He’s here because of a criminal complaint. The grand jury has yet to see the evidence and return an indictment," Smith added.
Sheppard is on paid administrative leave while the school district is trying to terminate his employment.
If convicted, Sheppard faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a lifetime of probation.