FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Fort Lauderdale police officer, who has also been identified as an assistant wrestling coach at Cardinal Gibbons High School, was arrested Wednesday after investigators in Minnesota said the man was engaging in sexual chats online with an undercover detective who he believed was a young girl.
Broward Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children detectives arrested Louis James Walsh on two counts of transmission of material harmful to a minor. Investigators said he also sent a photo over the internet of his “private area” exposed to the “girl.”
Detectives said Walsh, 29, also worked special security detail at Cardinal Gibbons High School and St. Anthony Catholic Church and is an assistant wrestling coach at Cardinal Gibbons.
“Everyone’s shocked,” one student told Local 10 News on Thursday.
The Superintendent of Schools office for the Archdiocese of Miami, confirmed that Walsh worked on traffic details, supervised the arrival and dismissal of students at two Archdiocesan Schools, including St. Anthony Elementary School and Cardinal Gibbons High School, both located in Fort Lauderdale, and was an assistant wrestling coach at Cardinal Gibbons.
In addition, Walsh coached wrestling at the high school.
“Yeah, I was surprised. He was a normal ... from my experiences with him, he was a normal person,” one student said.
Walsh was arrested Wednesday at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and has been placed on administrative leave without pay, according to a release from the FLPD.
“This is a difficult situation for everyone involved. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department is shocked and disappointed to learn of the arrest of one of our officers. After an investigation by the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), Louis Walsh was taken into custody on Wednesday. The details surrounding these allegations are very difficult to hear and do not reflect the character and professionalism expected of the men and women of this agency. Walsh has been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.”
The Superintendent of Schools office for the Archdiocese of Miami, released a statement about the arrest:
“Archdiocese of Miami Safe Environment Director and the Superintendent of Schools were notified this afternoon of the arrest of a Fort Lauderdale police Officer related to the violation of FL State statute 847.0138, transmission of material harmful to a minor by electronic device . . .
The Safe Environment Office and the Superintendent of Schools encourage parents to review with their children the ‘Teaching Boundaries Safety’ lessons taught in Catholic Schools, and be aware of any suspicious activity on laptops, cell phones, IPads, or desktops.”
Local 10 learned that Walsh has bonded out of jail and will wear an ankle monitor until his hearing date. He is also restricted from using the internet.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information or who believes they may know someone who is a victim should call Det. Erica Rockey at (954) 888-5290.