Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

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A former Hillsborough County teacher and coach has been arrested for the second time facing more allegations of child molestation, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

The 33-year-old ex-teacher and former volunteer coach was arrested Wednesday on new charges stemming from a football player who has accused him of sexually abusing him more than 50 times between 2017 and 2021. The former volunteer coach has been released on bail.

The man was initially arrested last month after being accused of inappropriately touching a child and showing pornographic images to the child at the school where he was a teacher.

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A teacher for the Pasco County School district has been arrested and charged with custodial authority sexual battery on a student.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into the 32-year-old man on January 2, 2022, after they received information about an alleged inappropriate relationship between the male teacher and student.

The alleged incidents took place when the student was 14-years-old.

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A former Steinbrenner High School band director has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to having an unlawful sexual relationship with a student.

The 37-year-old man will also serve 10 years’ probation as a sex offender.

He is slated to turn himself into authorities on Monday, February 7 at 10 a.m. at the Orient Road Jail.

The man was arrested in June 2020.

Teachers are placed in trusted positions over young students, and because of this they are held to high standards. When they are accused of violating their positions of authority, things can quickly get messy. Due to the high number of cases of sexual abuse by teachers, counselors, coaches, clergy members, and other people in positions of authority, teachers need to be aware of the potential for accusation to arise regarding a potentially inappropriate teacher-student sexual relationship. Claims of this nature can be damaging to one’s career and reputation and lead to criminal charges carrying very severe consequences if a conviction is achieved.

college-student-g6082e6904_1920-300x198If you are a teacher or another person placed in a position of trust among minors and have been accused of unlawful sex with a student, then you must fight back to protect your future. We believe that you are innocent until proven guilty and we will fight on your side to help prove your innocence.

Our Tampa Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand the urgency of your situation, which is why we will work hard to build you a powerful defense strategy. Our hope is to protect you from criminal charges and avoid you being forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life and all the challenges that this label brings with it. We also know that you have worked hard for your career and want to protect your status as an educator from being tarnished.

Just mere allegations of impropriety between a teacher and a student can stir up a lot of issues. You could be fired and humiliated AND face serious legal ramifications. Our Tampa Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to encourage you to stay the course and not lose hope. By working with us, we can help you make the best decisions for your specific situation and work towards getting the charges against you reduced or dismissed entirely. Continue reading

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A former Palm Beach County, Florida deputy has been sentenced to three years in prison for attempting to rape a woman when responding to a call.

On Thursday, the 42-year-old man was sentenced in Palm Beach County circuit court after admitting guilt to battery and attempted sexual battery. His sentencing was a part of a plea bargain with the prosecution. 

His second trial was slated for later this month. 

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A Hillsborough County high school teacher is facing various charges for allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a student for over a year, according to reports. 

The 46-year-old teacher is facing 12 counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor for his alleged involvement with a female student who was under the age of 18.

The sheriff’s office claims that from the time period between November 2019 and last December, the teacher allegedly had sex with the student, who was apparently in the man’s Spanish class at one point. 

As of Saturday, the man remained in jail with bail set at $180,000.00. 

Investigators did not say how they came to find out about the alleged sexual activity between the teacher and student. 

Florida law does criminalize any sexual activity between people 24 or older and minors who are 16 or 17 years old. Accusations of sexual activity with a minor can be devastating for anyone, but this is especially true for educators, school officials, coaches, youth mentors, pastors, and anyone that is placed in a position of authority over children. The mere accusation that an educator was involved in a sexual relationship with a student or minor can lead to the immediate suspension of their teaching license and could result in an immediate suspension to their position or even permanent termination. Sex crimes allegations can negatively affect a teacher’s livelihood, their family relationships, their personal relationships, and every aspect of their life. 

There is so much at stake when sex crimes accusations come about. Law enforcement and prosecutors take these allegations very seriously and will conduct a lengthy investigation to determine what exactly happened. They often side with the victims in these cases even if the only evidence is a student’s word against the teacher’s, so it is absolutely essential to retain legal counsel as soon as you are made aware of the accusations or charges against you. You are in for a fight, and you must trust your attorney to defend your rights, future, freedom, and career. 

Our Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton fully understand how urgent and sensitive these situations are. As soon as allegations or criminal charges arise, we can piece together a strong defense on yoru behalf to help you avoid being labeled a sex offender for the duration of your life. We want to help you protect your good standing reputation within the community and keep your teaching career that you worked so hard for from being tarnished. We will do everything in our power to get you the best possible results for the sex crimes charges you are facing. 

What Is Considered an Inappropriate Relationship with a Student?

It is certainly not unheard of for teachers and educators to form close relationships with their students. Teachers are placed in positions to help guide students towards bright futures, so being supportive role models is often expected of them. However, there is a fine line between role model and mentor and being too close with a student. While some behaviors should be obvious to educators in regards to inappropriateness, all school employees and volunteers should keep the following improper interactions with students in mind before engaging: 

  • Any communications where an educator or school staff member solicits a romantic type of relationship with a student 
  • Making ill-suited comments about a student’s body 
  • Making sexually inappropriate comments to a student 
  • Making any comments about a student’s sexuality/sex life/potential sexual performance
  • Requesting details about a student’s sexual history 
  • Asking a student out on a date 
  • Any comments or conversations about sexual preferences, fantasies, problems, etc. 
  • Unprofessional behavior like hugging, kissing, or excessive touching
  • Hinting at a romantic relationship with a student once they turn 18 or graduate
  • Giving a student alcohol or drugs

Inappropriate behavior that occurs between a teacher and a student is taken very seriously by Florida school districts, police, and prosecutors. As we mentioned before, accusations regarding illegal sexual contact between an educator and a student can ruin your teaching career. Teachers and school staff must be very careful when it comes to their relationships with students as interactions can easily be misinterpreted and lead to criminal charges. Continue reading

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A week long undercover sex sting operation has resulted in the arrest of 79 people, including a high school girls’ basketball coach and a pastor. 

The sting was conducted by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and called “Operation Takedown,” and launched to coincide with the past weekend’s WrestleMania 37 that was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The HCSO said that they believed the large even would yield a high number of people looking to take advantage of those in the Tampa community through human trafficking. 

Detectives created online profiles as part of the undercover operation to chat with men looking to engage in sex acts for money. They also had female detectives pose as prostitutes, according to reports. 

A 39-year-old pastor was arrested in the undercover operation. The Sheriff’s Office said that the man allegedly offered an undercover detective $25 for a sexual act after he took his children to their daycare. He is accused of reaching the deal with the undercover detective posing as a prostitute while his two kids were in the car with him. 

Another man, a 39-year-old assistant girls’ basketball coach, was arrested after allegedly answering an ad posted by the undercover officers. 

Both of the men are facing misdemeanor charges of soliciting another to commit prostitution. The pastor is facing two additional misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor due to the fact that his children were in the car with him when the alleged misconduct took place. 

The operation also resulted in two men being arrested on human trafficking charges. They were both arrested after allegedly responding to an escort ad to have sex with a 17-year-old girl. 

Another man, a 41-year-old registered sex offender, was arrested after he allegedly texted what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He is facing charges of transmitting harmful material to a minor and traveling to meet a minor after using a computer to solicit illegal acts, as well as other charges, according to the HCSO. 

Many people make the mistake of cruising the Internet for escorts and wind up involved in an undercover prostitution sting. The presence of web-based sex crimes has only increased police efforts to catch and prosecute those believed to be sexual predators. Police often use aggressive tactics to entrap innocent individuals with no criminal history into various situations that lead to their arrest. Our Florida Internet Sting Operation Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how police operate in these undercover stings, and we can put our knowledge to work for your benefit. If you or someone you love has been accused of responding to an ad posted by an undercover detective, then let us help you fight these charges. We are familiar with how police and undercover agents use social media, the Internet, as well as text messages and online chats to illegally trap those that have never had any run-ins with the law before. 

If you are arrested in an undercover Internet sting operation by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office or any other agency, you can possibly face immediate consequences that can negatively impact your life. Your name and picture could appear online and show that you were arrested for solicitation or any other related charge. A public disclosure like this can tarnish your reputation in the community with friends and family as well as damage your job status. 

When police officers use undercover agents to lure unsuspecting individuals into soliciting sex acts, this opens the door to the very real possibility of entrapment or other illegal tactics made by law enforcement. Our Florida Internet Sting Operation Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can review all of the evidence against you and identify any unlawful tactics used by police right away. Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to use this as leverage to persuade the prosecution for a dismissal of the charges or a reduction of the charges against you. Every case is different, and while we can make no guarantees on the outcome of your case, we can promise to passionately fight for your reputation and liberty. We understand how overreaching police officers work, and we have developed our own team of experienced investigators and computer forensic experts who can help us build the best defense strategy tailored to your case.  Continue reading

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Former NFL player and Tampa Bay Buccaneer tight end Kellen Winslow II has accepted a new plea deal that will placed him behind bars for 14 years for rape, assaul, and other misdemeanor sex crimes, according to the plea agreement entered Friday in San Diego Superior Court.

The new plea deal will replace a previous agreement from his November 2019 case, where he plead guilty to rape and sexual battery charges in order to avoid life behind bars. The previous deal had a sentencing range of 12 to 18 years in prison that would be decided by a judge following a sentencing hearing. 

37-year-old Winslow appeared remotely in a court hearing from jail in San Diego County. He told the judge he would like to agree to 14 years, according to reports. 

The new plea deal also includes a new guilty plea by Winslow who apparently assaulted a female hitchhiker in her mid-50s with the intent to commit rape in March 2018.  

law-1063249_1920-300x225Winslow’s sentencing hearing is set for March 3, which is when final judgement will come. 

The jury in Winslow’s first trial in the spring of 2019 could not reach a unanimous verdict on all his charges. Winslow was almost sentenced last year under the old deal, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Winslow’s sentencing scheduled for last March. 

The new plea agreement helps both sides avoid certain risks: the prosecutors avoid Winslow getting a shorter sentence and Winslow avoids a life in prison sentence, a risk associated with another trial. 

All of Winslow’s crimes took place in San Diego County. His first trial took place in June 2019 where a jury found him guilty of raping a homeless woman and exposing himself to a woman in his neighborhood in May 2018, as well as making a lewd gesture towards a woman at a gym in February 2019. 

Winslow also admitted guilt in November 2019 to raping an acquaintance while she was unconscious at a party in 2003, when she was 17 and he was 19.

In his new plea deal, he also pleaded guilty to assaulting the hitchhiker with the intent to commit rape.

Winslow has been in jail since March 2019, which will serve towards his 14-year sentence. 

At his first trial in spring 2019, Winslow was convicted by a jury for some of the charges against him.

In June 2019, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the other charges against him, which led to a retrial scheduled for November 2019.

If the new jury had convicted him on the remaining counts, he could have faced life in prison. However, Winslow opted to avoid that risk by making a plea agreement. 

Winslow’s attorneys previously argued that he suffered from brain injuries from football and a motorcycle accident in 2005, which they said resulted in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is linked to football head trauma. This frontal lobe damage is what his attorney’s believe led to changes in his behavior. They estimated he suffered more than 1,000 head injuries over the course of his football career, which ended in 2013. 

A sex crimes conviction is perhaps one of the more devastating convictions a person can face. You could be looking at years behind bars, large fines, and the lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender. This means your name and information will be made available to the public, you will face restrictions on where you can live and work, and you may not be able to visit certain public spaces. This is why you need to get legal help with a sex crimes accusation as soon as possible as your future and freedom are most certainly at stake. Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you understand your rights and legal options available to you in regards to the sex crimes charges you are facing. 

Why Do You Need to Hire a Sex Crimes Lawyer?  Continue reading

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Gainesville Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Robert Whittel now spends his days representing those accused of the highest criminal allegations in Florida. His criminal trial experience along with his relationships built as an Assistant State Attorney in Gainesville are an invaluable part of his criminal defense practice.

We spent a few minutes with Criminal Defense Attorney Robert Whittel talking about handling Rape and Kidnapping cases in Florida, and especially Gainesville. One of the highlights of our conversation is the specific pieces of data that he remembers from his thousands of past cases.

Because I handled so many cases and supervised other lawyers at the prosecutors office handling our serious Sex Crime cases in Gainesville like Kidnapping and Rape, when we have the opportunity to represent new clients at Whittel & Melton we immediately work to deconstruct what we can assume or think the State’s plan is, down to how they have built the file, how they will present it to the judge and to the jury – and then we work backwards from verdict all the way back to arrest and look for holes, inconsistencies and vulnerable areas ripe for challenge and possible exclusion. Like anything else, because we’ve walked this road before, we know where they are going even before journey begins. – Robert Whittel, Gainesville Criminal Defense Attorney and Trial Lawyer.

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A man is accused of flashing a woman and slapping her behind while she was walking to meet her boyfriend at a DeLand pub early Sunday, according to an arrest report.

The 27-year-old man is now facing a charge of indecent exposure and battery in relation to the incident, reports show.

According to the report, the woman was walking through the alley behind the pub around 1 a.m. when the man allegedly approached her and pulled out his genitals.

The man allegedly asked the woman to touch him and he slapped her behind when she refused.

The man allegedly followed the woman to the front door of the pub, at which point the woman’s boyfriend confronted him, the report states.

Police booked the man into the Volusia County Jail, where he’s being held in lieu of $5,000 bail.

Indecent exposure is actually a very serious crime and must be dealt with accordingly. While most of us know not to expose ourselves in public, when alcohol is thrown in the mix, all good judgement goes out the window. When this illegal conduct does happen, those accused deserve the best legal representation possible to fight and defend against the criminal charge.

Indecent exposure is not a minor infraction where a fine can be paid and the accused can move on with their life. An indecent exposure charge can actually cost you a lot more in fines and potential jail time. Because of this, the sooner you speak with a Volusia County Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton, the better able you will be to fight the criminal charge.

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A University of Florida student was arrested Sunday morning after police claim he raped a woman Sunday in the UF Keys Residential Complex.

The 19-year-old was arrested on a charge of sexual battery. A UF spokesman said the man is enrolled at UF as a construction management sophomore.

The man was invited back to the woman’s apartment to hang out Sunday morning, a UF Police Department arrest report said. The woman apparently told the man she did not want to have sex.

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