Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas schools: no plan to investigate ex-teacher nabbed in underage sex sting

There are no grounds to open an internal investigation of a former Pinellas County high school baseball coach arrested this week in an underage sex sting, the school district said.

Robert Francis, 31, a St. Petersburg College baseball coach, was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday when deputies said he showed up to meet what he believed would be a 14-year-old girl.

Francis worked for the school district for three years before he was hired by SPC.

School district officials said he started as a substitute teacher in 2004, then became a Bauder Elementary teaching assistant and Seminole High baseball coach. He moved to East Lake High in July 2005, where he was a teacher and baseball coach until August 2007.

Valerie Walker, administrator in the district's Office of Professional Standards, said the Orlando arrest does not warrant a fresh look into his time with the district. He had only one complaint in his personnel file, from the parents of a student unhappy he didn't make Francis' Seminole High team.

SPC placed Francis on paid administrative leave, banned him from the campus and barred contact with students or staff. Francis was the Titans' baseball coach for 14 months. Francis makes about $47,000 a year, according to school officials.

Lucas Fleming, Francis' attorney, said Thursday he wants more detail from the Orange County Sheriff's Office about how the sting was conducted.

"We view this as an isolated incident," Fleming said. "A lot of times in these cases, basically, the transcripts will help us really understand the extent to which law enforcement communicated with our client to determine how actively he pursued this lead."

Francis sent a nude picture of himself to what he thought was a 14-year-old girl he met in a chat room, records show. He drove to Orlando to meet her with a bottle of wine, a box of condoms, a video camera and M&Ms. Then he discovered the girl was actually undercover law enforcement.

Fleming said Francis, who is married with an infant daughter, has "a lot of support from people in the community."

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or

Pinellas schools: no plan to investigate ex-teacher nabbed in underage sex sting 12/08/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 8, 2011 8:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  2. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]
  3. Tests show North Korea earthquake not caused by nuclear test


    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's weather agency said a magnitude 3.2 earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday close to where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural.

    People watch a TV news program reporting North Korea's earthquake, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. South Korea's weather agency said an earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday around where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural. The signs read " The weather agency said a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was detected in North Korea." [Associated Press]
  4. Forecast: Tampa Bay's first fall weekend brings scattered showers


    It may officially be fall, but Tampa Bay won't have any cooler temperatures this weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Romano: The choice does not have to be poverty or gentrification

    Local Government

    The memories must be protected. The music and the lore, too.

    The owner of Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food is refusing to give the city information on the restaurant's sales as required by his contract to occupy the city-owned Manhattan Casino. The information is needed to calculate whether the nonprofit Urban Development Solutions, headed by Larry Newsome, owes the city more than the $3,000 monthly base rent.