LAKELAND, Fla. — A Lakeland High School track coach is facing charges of sexual battery on a student.
What You Need To Know
- Jarvis Young, 40, was charged with sexual battery by custodian and abuse of a child without bodily harm, among other charges
- Sheriff Grady Judd said a 16-year-old boy approached the coach for training help and that Young claimed he was a trained massage therapist
- The sheriff is asking others to come forward if they have had similar interaction with the coach
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said a 16-year-old boy came forward to report what happened to him, and the sheriff is asking other students to come forward as well.
Jarvis Young, 40, was charged with sexual battery by custodian, abuse of a child without bodily harm and interfering with the custody of a minor, among other charges, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Judd said the boy approached the coach for help with strength training and that when the boy mentioned he was sore from working out, Young claimed to be a trained massage therapist.
He offered to massage the teen, and Judd said Young touched the boy inappropriately.
Young had been accused of inappropriate behavior twice in the past, but no charges were filed, the sheriff said. In one case a statute of limitations ran out, and in another case the family didn't want to cooperate.
The sheriff had a message for students who might be afraid to speak up.
"My message to the students is we're going to believe you,” Judd said. “And we're going to protect you. And we're going to make sure you have any counseling or infrastructure for support that you need. But you can't allow this bad man to hurt anybody else. Emotionally, physically. You've got to help us. We need to know everybody he has attacked or tried to attack.”
Judd said he has spoken with the school superintendent, and an investigation is under way into the coach’s hiring.
Superintendent Fred Heid released a statement that said, in part, "Our students and families should expect to be safe in the presence of school employees and coaches. The allegations against Jarvis Young are deeply disturbing.
"Although he was never convicted of any past incidents, I am extremely troubled that he was involved with our school system in any capacity."
Heid said the district will re-screen other coaches.