Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Public safety

Former Tampa principal Larkin accused of second sexual assault on child

TAMPA — Allegations of child sexual abuse against a once-beloved private school headmaster now span 34 years and, potentially, two institutions.

James Jerome Larkin, 63, was jailed Wednesday on a charge of capital sexual battery on a 10-year-old boy in 1980.

It was the second charge in four months. A 14-year-old boy told authorities that Larkin, his school principal, had molested him just last March, which led to Larkin's arrest in April.

Publicity over that charge prompted an adult man in his mid 40s to contact law enforcement about an incident he said occurred when he was 10.

From 1978 to 2009, Larkin was headmaster at St. John Greek Orthodox Day School in South Tampa. It's unclear whether the 1980 victim attended St. John. Larkin later became principal of Tampa Day School near Citrus Park, a job he lost earlier this year upon news of his arrest.

"He intends to fight these allegations in the proper time and place," Larkin's attorney, Patrick Courtney, said late Wednesday.

In the latest charge to be filed, the victim reported that he was at a sleepover at Larkin's apartment in the Carrollwood area in 1980. Larkin climbed into the bed and sexually battered him, the victim told the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives interviewed multiple witnesses.

"We investigated it thoroughly and found corroborating information through witnesses, interviews and various other means," sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

He said "a lot of similarities" exist between the two cases.

The detectives' findings were turned over to the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office, which obtained an arrest warrant.

Earlier this year, Larkin was accused of molesting the 14-year-old after becoming a surrogate father to the boy, who had lost his own father. The Sheriff's Office alleges that Larkin babysat the boy on March 7, while his mother was away for a weekend.

About 10:15 p.m., Larkin entered the boy's room, laid down next to him and put his hands down the boy's pants, the Sheriff's Office reported.

In a recorded call, Larkin admitted to the 14-year-old's allegations, authorities said.

The Sheriff's Office doesn't know if there are other victims. McKinnon said victims are sometimes reluctant to come forward after many years.

"It takes a lot of courage, a lot of strength," he said. "We admire that courage. Even though the obstacles are challenging, the obstacle of having to suppress that your entire life would be even more challenging."

Contact Patty Ryan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.

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