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Former Pinellas teacher remains in jail



A former Pinellas County high school teacher remained in jail Wednesday on a charge of interference with custody, a third-degree felony.

Thomas J. Anderson, 59, was arrested late Tuesday. The charge, which is used when someone illegally takes a minor from the custody of a public agency, carries up to five years in jail.

Anderson, who taught social studies at Seminole High School, resigned recently after acknowledging that he took a 16-year-old female student to his house during school hours. Once there, he had the girl massage his back, legs and chest, according to the Pinellas County.

Investigators said Anderson encouraged the girl to skip class with him and then arranged for a substitute teacher to cover his class. To avoid being seen with the victim, Anderson told her to wait for him off campus, the sheriff's office said. When the girl told Anderson she wanted to leave his house, he dropped her off near her home to avoid detection, records state.

Pinellas superintendent Clayton Wilcox had recommended to the School Board that Anderson be fired prior to his resignation.

Originally hired in 1973, Anderson taught at Clearwater High School. He resigned in 1980 and was re-hired in 1983 as a teacher at Dunedin Highland Middle School. He resigned again in 1984 and was re-hired as a substitute teacher in 1995. He came to Seminole the following year.

In 1999, a student who had been Anderson's teacher assistant at Seminole High filed a complaint against him for rubbing her shoulders and lower back, documents in his disciplinary file revealed.

Anderson denied the charges and kept his job in exchange for a promise there would be "no touching of any female in any way that could be interpreted as inappropriate.

- Donna Winchester, Pinellas education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:39am]


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