Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Jury can't reach decision in sex case against former Lakewood band director

LARGO — Former Lakewood High School band director Raphael McLean went on trial this week, accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student in his office inside the band room.

The jury declared itself unable to reach a verdict Wednesday night, hours after McLean's attorney, Val Shealey, offered a novel defense. Shealey said McLean did have sex in his school office, just not with a student — but with an adult guidance counselor.

And on Wednesday that guidance counselor, Danielle Johnson, testified that she had two sexual encounters with McLean in the winter of 2010.

She said she was testifying because "I just want to do what's right." Afterward, she went to School Board headquarters and resigned.

For the defense, Johnson's testimony provided a possible explanation of why McLean's semen was found on the desk and chair in his office.

For the Tampa Bay area, it was another strange twist in its sordid history of teachers being accused of committing questionable and sometimes illegal sexual acts.

But to Assistant State Attorney Christopher LaBruzzo, the case provided clear evidence McLean had sex with the 15-year-old girl, and "he did so on campus, in his office in the middle of the day."

McLean, 28, extolled by his attorney as a former member of the famed Florida A&M marching band, was a popular teacher and band director at Lakewood, even a father figure for some students. His band room often filled with youths.

The student, now a 17-year-old college-bound senior, said McLean, who was married, frequently complimented her and eventually began talking about sex. Her name is withheld from this report because of the nature of the allegations.

"He asked me if I was to do it with anybody in the school, who would it be? I said Mr. McLean," she testified Tuesday.

At one point, she said, he gave her a hall pass out of geometry class and into band, during his planning period. That's when she took off her pants and they had intercourse on his desk, she said.

She said she didn't tell anyone about it because she was worried that "people would look at me differently."

The girl testified that the sex was consensual, but LaBruzzo told jurors it didn't matter under the law — having sex with someone over 12 and under 16 made him guilty of lewd or lascivious battery, he said.

Experts testified that McLean's semen was found on his desk and chair in his office. But Johnson's testimony, in which she said they had oral sex twice, muddied the waters about how it got there. LaBruzzo said the case ultimately boiled down to whether jurors found the student credible, and he stressed that she was.

Shealey disagreed, saying the girl at first denied to police that any sex occurred, and that she "wavered" in estimating how many minutes the intercourse lasted. He also criticized prosecutors for failing to bring her hall passes into evidence, or proof that she had been enrolled in the geometry class.

Jurors declined to comment as they left the courthouse Wednesday night.

A new trial has been set for June 5.

One thing the jury did not know: McLean also faces another pending charge of lewd and lascivious molestation stemming from a separate incident at Lakewood. A pretrial hearing for that case also has been set for June 5.

Johnson, 36, the former guidance counselor, will not be subject to an investigation by the school district because of her resignation.

A detective told district officials about a month ago that there would be alibi testimony in McLean's case, but they were not told the witness was a school employee, said Pinellas schools spokeswoman Melanie Marquez. Then on Monday, Marquez said, the district's Office of Professional Standards was told that Johnson was the alibi witness, but "the office was not told what the content of her testimony would be."

Marquez said no one at the district was aware of Johnson's earlier deposition in the case, in which she told lawyers about the sexual encounters.

Johnson was hired in August 2000 as a teacher at Madeira Beach Fundamental Middle School. In March 2009, she started as a guidance counselor at Bay Point Middle and then transferred to Lakewood in August of 2009. She has no disciplinary actions in her file, Marquez said.

Times staff writer Rebecca Catalanello contributed to this report. Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232 or [email protected]

Comments
Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' pitching rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles could have a familiar look: Romo, Romo, Romo.Manager Kevin Cash said using veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo as the "opener" in all three upcoming g...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dom...
Updated: 5 hours ago
‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

TAMPA — Nick Genovese was anxious.The 21-year-old from Land O’Lakes had come to Thunder Alley outside Amalie Arena hoping to see the Tampa Bay Lightning triumph over the Washington Capitals in Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference winner-take-all Game...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

TAMPA — The Lightning's dream season ended late Wednesday with the final horn, or, if you prefer, early in the second period of Game 5, when it scored its last goal of the Eastern Conference final.How about that? The team with the most regular-...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

TAMPA — Yanni Gourde said he will have to see a replay to know just how it got away, but even in a lopsided 4-0 loss like Wednesday night, he'll remember the puck in front of an empty net, and the missed opportunity that encapsulated a frustrat...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

TAMPA — This one stings. And it will ache for a long time. Maybe forever in these parts.Another chance for a Stanley Cup. Another disappointment. As the Lightning skated off the ice after losing Wednesday night's Game 7 of the Eastern Conferenc...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Woman hit, killed while crossing road in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing N 40th Street near E Hanlon Street on Wednesday night, according to Tampa police.The crash took place just before 8 p.m. The driver was heading north on 40th Street before strikin...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.His 16-year-old s...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

TAMPA — Forget Vegas.The Lightning have left the building.No more season. No more watch parties. No more anything.There is no way around it. Jon Cooper's team couldn't finish, not in Game 7 at home, not in the Eastern Conference final...
Updated: 6 hours ago