University of Tampa professor charged with possessing child pornography in Georgia

A University of Tampa physics professor has been arrested on three counts of sexual exploitation of children, for possessing child sexual abuse material, on a warrant out of Georgia.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that Dr. Ethan Deneault, of Tampa, was under investigation beginning in May 2023 after receiving a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children alleging that Deneault was in possession of CSAM and may have distributed it as well.

A forensic search of electronic devices showed Deneault had been in Butts County, Ga. in January 2023 when the offenses occurred, the GBI said.

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Warrants for Deneault’s arrest were obtained by GBI agents on Jan. 11.

The next day, officers from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested him at the University of Tampa, according to the GBI.

Records from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office show he was arrested at the university, and that he was still employed as a professor of physics at the time of his arrest.

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The records further show that Deneault was not given a bond amount and that he is currently listed with a “hold for Georgia” designation.

Channel 2 Action News is working to get the arrest affidavit to learn more about Deneault’s arrest.

The GBI said Deneault is being held at the Hillsborough County Jail where he is awaiting extradition to Georgia.

Deneault’s faculty page on the University of Tampa website shows he is currently on administrative leave.

In a statement provided to Channel 2 Action News, a university spokesman said “The University is aware that Ethan Deneault, professor of physics, was taken into custody by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Deneault has been placed on administrative leave pending additional information about his arrest. As such he is not teaching for the spring term and is not present on campus.”

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