Monday, December 18, 2017
News Roundup

Prosecutors drop case against band director accused of having sex with student

Prosecutors have dropped their case against a former Lakewood High School Band director accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student in his office.

Raphael McLean, 29, was scheduled to go on trial this week, but his teenage accuser refused to testify in the case, according to Assistant State Attorney Christopher LaBruzzo. He said the girl had moved out of state and quit returning his office's phone calls.

"She no longer wanted to take part in the prosecution," he said. "We've done all that we can."

McLean, a former member of the famed Florida A&M marching band, still faces charges of lewd and lascivious molestation stemming from a separate incident at Lakewood in which he is accused of wrestling another 15-year-old student to the ground and molesting her in the school's band room. A pretrial hearing in that case is scheduled for Jan. 8.

McLean had already been tried once for the charges dropped this week, but a jury in March couldn't reach a verdict. LaBruzzo said they had voted 5-1 in favor of a conviction.

McLean's attorney, Val Shealey, had told the court his client had sex in his school office — just not with a student. Former guidance counselor Danielle Johnson testified that she and McLean twice had oral sex in the winter of 2010. She resigned soon after her appearance in court.

Johnson's testimony, Shealey had said, offered a possible explanation for why his client's semen was found on the desk and chair in his office.

The student had told jurors that McLean, who was married, frequently complimented her and eventually began talking about sex. Her name is withheld from this story because of the allegations' nature.

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

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 consensual 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."

Shealey attacked the girl's testimony, saying she 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.

"My client has proclaimed his innocence from day one," Shealey said. "I respect their decision not to move forward."

Times files contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at [email protected]

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