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News and Investigations

News & Investigations

News Releases and Public Information

Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.

PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at

The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.

Jan 5, 2024

Kathleen High School teacher arrested for inappropriate relationship with student

Media Contact: Carrie Horstman, Administrator

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit detectives have arrested and charged 33-year-old Brandon Adams of Lakeland, a Kathleen High School teacher, with sex offense on a student by an authority figure (F2) after investigation revealed he had an inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old student during the 2021-2022 school year and beyond.

The victim disclosed that she moved in with Adams in June of 2021, when she was 18 years old, and had a consensual sexual relationship with Adams while he was still teaching at Kathleen High and during her senior year of high school (2021-2022).

“This suspect used his position of authority over one of his students in the most egregious way. We will not tolerate this kind of behavior." - Grady Judd, Sheriff


Brandon Adams has worked for PCPS since August 2018. He has been on leave since November — PCPS has been investigating an incident that is separate from the PCSO case that led to Adams’ arrest.

In response to the allegations that led to his arrest, we are moving forward with Adams’ termination. He had no prior disciplinary incidents in his time with PCPS and passed a background check before hiring.

Superintendent Fred Heid has issued the following statement:

“I’m disgusted by the behavior described in this investigation. It is unacceptable for an educator to abuse their trust and authority by having a relationship with a student. We appreciate the work of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to help protect students, and ensure that people who commit these violations are punished and brought to justice.”