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Tommy Hazouri Jr.‘s release on child porn charges on hold?

Investigators say they found hundreds of inappropriate images, some videos on his personal laptop

Investigators say they found hundreds of inappropriate images, some videos on his personal laptop.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 40-year-old son of City Council president and former Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Hazouri, who was arrested Wednesday and charged with 25 counts of child pornography, remained in the Duval County jail more than 24 hours after his lawyer sought and received a drastic reduction in his bond.

Tommy Hazouri Jr., a second-grade teacher on the Mayport Coastal Sciences Elementary School website, was arrested at his parents’ home just after 9 p.m. Wednesday.

While bond was originally set for $625,000 -- $25,000 for each count -- Hazouri Jr.‘s attorney, Hank Coxe, convinced a judge to lower the bond to a total of $25,000. Chapman Bail Bonds is listed as his bond agent.

On the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office online jail inmates database Friday, the amount listed required for Hazouri’s release is listed as N/A -- not applicable -- and the language “Duval County Hold” at the bottom of the page. News4Jax is trying to get someone to explain that hold.

The State Attorney’s Office had no comment on the bond reduction and referred us to what the prosecutor told the judge in court Thursday -- that the $625,000 bond was appropriate.

Hazouri’s attorney didn’t comment on the issue. News4Jax asked defense attorney Curtis Fallgatter, who is not affiliated with this case, for an insight into why Hazouri’s bond was lowered.

“Judges attempt to make fair decisions and, really, when you have a child of a prominent public official, you know that young man is not going anywhere. Those are factors that should be considered. Folks might believe that is favoritism. That’s just reality. He’s not a drifter that’s going to skip town. The young man is going to be here to respond.”

A parent of a student at the school was waiting outside the jail Friday, hoping to him to ask him some questions.

“My main concern is to know what those photos are that were seen, there with those children, and to know if my daughter was one of those in the picture,” Stephen Williams said. “Why was he ever around kids? More than anything, I just want to know what those photos are. I think I’ll ask him about that all right.”

Court documents show 100s of photos of naked children with adults found on Hazouri Jr.‘s personal laptop, but investigators said Hazouri didn’t appear in them and it is not believed any of them are from this area. It did note that there were photos of children that may have been taken at Mayport Elementary, but they were fully clothed and those showed nothing inappropriate.

According to the arrest affidavit, the criminal investigation of Hazouri Jr. began with a tip to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in early July. Upon learning Aug. 6 that he was under investigation, Duval County Public Schools said Hazouri was reassigned to a position that does not involve contact with children.

He was arrested Wednesday night, two weeks after police served a search warrant at his Jacksonville Beach home. After a forensic examination of his personal laptop that was seized revealed hundreds of images and videos of sexual performance of a child, a warrant was issued and he was arrested.

Investigators said there was evidence that Hazouri Jr. was sharing child pornography with others online.

The documents show that some, non-exploitive pictures of children recovered that appear to have been taken in an education setting, believed to be Mayport Elementary School. Hazouri Jr.’s DCPS laptop was also seized, but there was no mention of any inappropriate material being found on that computer.

The 40-year-old son of City Council president and former Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Hazouri was arrested Wednesday and charged with 25 counts of child pornography.

If Hazouri Jr. is released, he will have to wear a GPS monitor and have no access to electronic devices or the internet if released. He would stay at his parents’ home while awaiting an arraignment set for Sept. 10.

Around 6 p.m. Thursday, the jail received the bond reduction paperwork from the court. Defense attorney Randy Reep, who has no ties to the case, weighed on Hazouri’s bond reduction.

“I’ll be curious to see where that $625,000 bond first started. That was a request made of a judge to issue that bond without any representation involved of the defendant. We call that an ex parte argument. So it is not uncommon to see a bond be reduced. And there are reasons why a bond would be reduced when initially put in,” said Reep, who added those reasons include proving that Hazouri Jr. is not an immediate danger to the public or a flight risk.

Coxe sent the following statement Thursday about his Hazouri Jr.’s arrest:

“I had informed the State Attorney weeks ago that if there were any decision to arrest Mr. Hazouri that he remained available; where he remained available; and I assumed he could voluntarily surrender whenever it was requested. A little after 9 PM last night I received a call from an Assistant State Attorney that Mr. Hazouri had been arrested a minute earlier, exactly where he had been for this same period of time. I was later advised that the Sheriff’s Office refused to agree to a voluntary surrender. It is beyond disappointing that it occurred this way, but it has, so we move on to more critical issues.”

Tommy Hazouri Sr. is at home recovering from a recent lung transplant and told News4Jax he is not commenting about his son’s arrest at this time.

Employment history; reaction to arrest

Hazouri Jr. began working for Duval County Public Schools as a substitute in 2003. He was hired full time at Kernan Trail Elementary in 2006 and taught at three different grade levels over the next 10 years. He transferred to Englewood Elementary in 2018 and moved last year to Mayport Elementary.

Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene released a statement about Hazouri’s status and condemning the behavior.

“As soon as we learned of the investigation, we took immediate action to ensure he had no further interaction with any of our students,” Greene wrote. “This behavior should not exist anywhere, least of all among those individuals in the educational setting.”

At a news conference following the first day of school, Greene commented further on the school district’s response: “The school district actually removed the teacher from that school weeks ago when we were notified of a concern. It’s very unfortunate, because our concern is about the children, and that we as educators we are here to educate students and not to put them in any harm’s way. We will follow whatever JSO is asking, in relation to that investigation. But we moved very quickly.”

“I actually wanted him to be my son’s teacher,” said Nicole Williams, whose 8-year-old daughter was Hazouri’s student last year. “He was that good of a teacher and then just to find this out, it’s so shocking.”

Williams said she found out about the allegations from a recorded phone message the school district sent and the news.

“To know that he wanted to do one-on-one tutoring,” Williams said. “He did ask that last year and I told him no because I couldn’t afford tutoring.”

She’s asking how to break the news to her daughter.

“How do you talk to an 8-year-old about her teacher being arrested? For what he was arrested for? That’s going to be the hardest conversation I’ve ever had to have,” Williams said.

Parents react to the arrest of Duval County teacher Tommy Hazouri Jr.

According to the arrest documents, detectives wrote that pictures of two children appeared to have been taken inside the classroom at Mayport Elementary. Coxe said they weren’t pornographic.

The allegations against the teacher are still downright disturbing for parents.

“You work at a kids elementary school and you’re also a teacher, I mean, that’s one of the things you don’t want your kids around,” said Harry Dixon, whose son attended Kernan last year.

News4Jax went by Hazouri Jr.‘s Jacksonville Beach home on 15th Avenue South, which police raided two weeks ago. No one was there. Neighbors who saw the police activity are now piecing together what happened.

“We did not know what to think honestly,” said a neighbor who asked not to be identified. “We just saw a lot of police cars somewhere marked, some unmarked. A lot of guns and then things were just being taken out of the house. Now that we have more information about the arrest, it’s very concerning.”

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said the fact that a teacher facing these accusations will be very troubling for parents and students.

“That’s the tough part about it -- you are trusting your elementary kids to schools to learn and to and look to some teachers as role models,” Jefferson said. “And then ... betrayed by a teacher -- the person that has been entrusted with ... your children.”


About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.