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Former UF quarterback faces years in prison, sex offender status if convicted

Florida Gators football program officials say they were unaware of the criminal investigation underway since June of backup quarterback Jalen Kitna, 19, who was arrested Nov. 30 in a case involving five felony counts of possessing and distributing child pornography online. (Photo courtesy of Florida Gators)
Florida Gators football program officials say they were unaware of the criminal investigation underway since June of backup quarterback Jalen Kitna, 19, who was arrested Nov. 30 in a case involving five felony counts of possessing and distributing child pornography online. (Photo courtesy of Florida Gators)

Jalen Kitna, the former backup quarterback for the University of Florida, would face years in prison and hundreds of dollars in fines and be required to register as a sex offender if he were convicted on the child pornography charges he is facing, according to a review of over 1,000 cases in the county where he is being prosecuted.

Even for someone with a previously clean record, no one who was convicted of five counts of child pornography escaped prison time, according to the review of cases in Alachua County Circuit Court dating to 1996.

Likewise, no one has been acquitted, although prosecutors have abandoned hundreds of similar cases – often with no public explanation – before they ever ended up before a jury, the review found.

Kitna, 20, of Burleson, Texas, was arrested Nov. 30 at the apartment he shared with teammates after police said he shared two images of what they described as underage, pubescent girls in graphic sexual positions. They found three more images they described as child sexual abuse material on his iPhone after Kitna gave them his password. Police cited him on five preliminary, felony charges of possessing and distributing child pornography online.

The State Attorney’s Office has not formally charged Kitna, who is living with his family in Texas. He was released on an $80,000 bond and under orders to use only a court-monitored internet connection. Last week, his lawyer waived Kitna’s right to a speedy trial, signaling that the court case may drag on for months longer.

“I hope people can step back and reserve some judgment until the facts are known,” said Kitna’s lawyer, Ron Kozlowski. He added: “He’s got a big heart, cares about others more than himself, and is always looking to please and live up to pretty high expectations. Being arrested devastated him because he felt he let people down.”

By law, if he were to be convicted on all charges, Kitna faces up to 45 years in prison and $35,000 in fines. The survey of all such cases and their outcomes showed that punishments varied, based on the number of criminal charges against a defendant and their criminal history.

Of more than 1,000 cases, there have been seven others in Alachua County since 1996 charged with exactly five counts of possession or distribution of child pornography – just like Kitna – but only two of the seven had otherwise clean records before they were swept up in the legal system.

Daniel S. Deaton, 34, and Emily Sarah Robinson, 20, both had no prior criminal charges in Alachua County. Robinson was originally charged with seven counts: five counts of possession of child pornography, one count of using a two-way communication device and one count of cruelty toward a child.

Robinson received a two-year sentence in state prison followed by four years of sex offender probation and paid $672 in fees. Deaton was sentenced to four years in a state prison and paid $823 in fees. Both were required to register as sex offenders in Florida.

Robinson, who is expected to be released from prison in January, did not respond to two messages sent to her in prison. Deaton, expected to be released from prison in February 2026, declined to discuss his case.

Facebook flagged Robinson’s account in 2021 and notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that it had detected her sharing illegal videos over its Messenger chat application. Police said the videos showed a pre-pubescent female and a boy in preschool. 

Deaton pleaded no contest in May 2022 under a plea agreement to three of the charges, and prosecutors dropped the other two. 

Sometimes, the state attorney’s office walks away from such criminal cases without any public explanation.

Prosecutors charged a 33-year-old licensed professional with 13 counts of possession or distribution of child pornography last year. Investigators said they found more than 100 images of a nude 15-year-old girl on an account at the Imgur online image sharing and image hosting service, and said the man acknowledged he found the images on the Reddit social media service and uploaded copies to Imgur. He told sheriff’s deputies he didn’t know the girl was 15, court records said.

Investigators tracked down the 15-year-old girl, who said she did not know the man and had no idea how the photos she took had been leaked online, according to court records.

In October, without explaining why, prosecutors abandoned the case and notified the judge they would no longer prosecute the man. Earlier this month, the man asked the judge to expunge, or purge from public view, records of the arrest and criminal case against him, and the prosecutor’s office said it would not object to his request.

“Those charges never should have been filed,” said the man’s lawyer, Gilbert Schaffnit. He declined to discuss details of the case and said prosecutors made the decision to abandon it.

“Usually, whether or not it’s child porn is pretty apparent once you look at the images, but sometimes that’s not the case,” Schaffnit said. “Sometimes the person is not underage. Sometimes it doesn’t depict sexual activity.”

A spokesman for the state attorney’s office, Darry Lloyd, said prosecutors did not believe they could prove the man knew the girl in the photos was underage. Lloyd said the office consulted with federal prosecutors.

“If the prosecutor can’t ethically prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, they can’t ethically move forward,” Lloyd said. “They also did their due diligence over with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and they looked at it the same way.”

Lloyd said the case against the man was different. Police said the images Kitna was accused of sharing included a prepubescent girl nude from the waist down and both were marked "so young junior." The three images on his phone showed two pubescent girls in a shower, and Kitna told an investigator he prefers pornographic content of girls as young as 16, police said.

“This is a different case,” Lloyd said.

The state attorney’s office has recently seen an uptick in possession of child pornography charges from this region, Lloyd said.

The judge has not yet decided whether to expunge the records in the case against the licensed professional.

In Kitna’s case, the Gators suspended Kitna from the football team immediately, and the university has banned Kitna from its campus until November 2025. He is listed in the registrar’s records as a student studying advertising from Texas in the College of Journalism and Communications for the current semester.

This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at troy.myers@freshtakeflorida.com . You can donate to support our students here .

Troy is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.