A Pembroke Pines middle school teacher and junior varsity football coach was arrested Tuesday for allegedly inappropriately texting and soliciting a student.
Leverick Ladarius Johnson, 26, was charged with solicitation, cruelty towards a child, sexual battery by a custodian, and obscene communication with a child. It is unclear if he has acquired the services of an attorney.
According to Pembroke Pines police, the accused, who works at Somerset Academy, allegedly took interest in a 13-year-old female student and asked her for her phone number and social media information.
From September to October, the accused sent the victim inappropriate texts. He reportedly asked her for pictures, questioned her on her level of sexual experience, and told her they should smoke marijuana together, police said.
The accused allegedly asked the victim to meet him in school, in a stairwell without closed-circuit cameras, to perform oral sex on him. He also told the victim that they had to keep their relationship secret in at least once of their conversations, according to the police report.
When the victim expressed concern about their age difference, the accused allegedly told her, “I am grown. And?” The victim told investigators that she didn’t engage in any sexual activity with him, but he did grab her behind while leaving his classroom.
Somerset Academy released a statement saying the students’ “safety and well being” is the school’s main concern and that it is cooperating with law enforcement to investigate the allegations.
“Yesterday, our School Resource Officer learned of allegations of inappropriate communications from a substitute/assistance football coach to a student,” school officials said in a letter addressed to parents. “The school took immediate action and gathered the necessary information to prevent student harm. The individual is in police custody and will not be returning to our school.”
Investigators are asking anyone whose child might have had inappropriate contact with the defendant to contact the Pembroke Pines Police Department. It is not clear whether the defendant has ever been accused of similar conduct in the past. Background checks on anyone who works with minors generally keep those with any record of misconduct with minors out of schools.
A custodial authority committing sexual battery on a child is a serious offense with harsh penalties. The charge doesn’t require the custodian to have performed any sexual act on the child; simply soliciting a minor is a crime. It also doesn’t matter if the victim consented to the sexual act.
In a case like this, a state prosecutor will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim is under 18 but older than 12; the defendant had a position of custodial authority over the victim; and the defendant committed a sex act. It is crucial for anyone charged with this offense to hire an experienced attorney who can help navigate them through the criminal justice system and obtain the best possible outcome.
Pembroke Pines Sexual Battery Attorney
If you have been charged with a sex offense, then you should hire an attorney. Contact us to set up a free initial consultation and work with one of Florida’s most experienced sexual battery attorneys