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Thomas Patrick Hannett, Former School Principal, Arrested in Online Child Sex Crime Sting

The former principal of a San Bernardino school has been arrested for sex crimes after chatting online with a sheriff’s detective posing as a minor, officials said.

Thomas Patrick Hannett was arrested Thursday on suspicion of committing lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, contacting a minor for lewd purposes, and arranging to meet a minor for sex, according to San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department officials and booking records.

The arrest resulted from an online undercover sting conducted by the Sheriff's Specialized Investigation Division, Crime Against Children Detail, the sheriff's department said.

It began when Hannett allegedly responded to a post made by a Crimes Against Children Detail detective on an anonymous chat forum.

Authorities added that he used the screen name "Nighthawk_760" during some of his online conversations.

"Hannett initiated a conversation with the detective, who acted as the persona of a 14-year-old girl," according to the statement. "During communication, Hannett agreed to meet with the undercover persona to engage in sexual acts."

Detectives believe there may be additional victims. Anyone with information was urged to contact the Sheriff's Crimes Against Children Detail at (909) 890-4904. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to We Tip at (800) 782-7463.

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