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Farnell middle school teacher accused of molesting 14-year-old boy

TAMPA — Online student reviews once raved about Tammy Renee Clinton, a Farnell Middle School geography teacher.

"The Best!" one student wrote on ratemyteachers.com.

"OMG … Best teacher ever," wrote another in 2008.

But the sentiment turned ugly Thursday, following Clinton's arrest on two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct involving 14-year-old Farnell student. The latest comments included derogatory names that were too explicit for print.

Clinton was arrested at 5 p.m., following an interview at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office's criminal investigation unit, said Debbie Carter, a sheriff's spokeswoman.

With that, she became at least the sixth female Hillsborough teacher arrested in recent years on charges involving inappropriate sexual behavior with students.

Clinton, 39, of 15613 Eastbourn Drive in Odessa is accused of forcing the boy to touch her breasts as she groped his buttocks and inviting him to meet her off campus to perform a sex act twice since mid January, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Carter said the most recent solicitation for a sex act was Thursday.

The school district had learned of the allegations on Tuesday, after the victim reported the incidents to an adult at the school. The district, then, reported it to the Sheriff's Office, said Steve Hegarty, a spokesman for the district.

"The police wanted to have a case before they removed her from the classroom," Hegarty said. "That was their call."

Clinton has never been disciplined in her eight-year career teaching at Farnell, Hegarty said.

She came to the profession in 2002, after receiving a degree in elementary education, personnel records show. She has taught only at Farnell.

Julie Enterline, who heard of the allegations while watching the TV evening news, said she was shocked. Clinton teaches one door down from her at Farnell.

"She's on my team," the veteran English teacher said. "I would never think that about her."

Enterline said Clinton's teenage son sometimes meets her at the school and that they seem to have a loving relationship.

"I hope it's not true for her sake, for the school's sake, for all of us," she said.

Teachers said they had not heard anything about the allegations from school administrators before leaving school Thursday afternoon.

"I just don't know what to say," Enterline said.

Today some schools, including Farnell, will be closed for the annual Fair Day.

Hegarty said Clinton has been suspended with pay and will receive a letter stating that because of the seriousness of the charges she will not be allowed to come to the school.

"Suspension with pay is the first step until without pay can be initiated," he said.

Her bail was set at $30,000.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or rmitchell@sptimes.com.

Female teachers involved sex scandals in Hillsborough Schools:

June 2004: Debra Lafave, former Greco Middle School teacher, is accused of having sex with a 14-year-old student. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years house arrest and seven years probation in 2005.

October 2005: Jaymee Wallace, former Wharton High School teacher and coach, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a student who played on her girls basketball team. She pleaded guilty in 2007 was sentenced to three years in prison.

October 2007: Christina Butler, former Middleton High School special education teacher, accused of having sex up to a dozen times with a 16-year-old boy. A year later, she was sentenced to five years of sex offender probation.

March 2008: Mary Jo Spack, former Freedom High School teacher accused of having sex with a 17-year-old boy after buying liquor and bringing him to a motel. She pleaded guilty to felony battery in 2009 and got five years of probation.

March 2008: Stephanie Ragusa, former Davidsen Middle School teacher, accused of having sex with two students.

facts

Teacher scandals

Female teachers involved sex scandals in Hillsborough Schools:

June 2004: Debra Lafave, former Greco Middle School teacher, is accused of having sex with a 14-year-old student. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years house arrest and seven years probation in 2005.

October 2005: Jaymee Wallace, former Wharton High School teacher and coach, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a student who played on her girls basketball team. She pleaded guilty in 2007 was sentenced to three years in prison.

October 2007: Christina Butler, former Middleton High School special education teacher, accused of having sex up to a dozen times with a 16-year-old boy. A year later, she was sentenced to five years of sex offender probation.

March 2008: Mary Jo Spack, former Freedom High School teacher accused of having sex with a 17-year-old boy after buying liquor and bringing him to a motel. She pleaded guilty to felony battery in 2009 and got five years of probation.

March 2008: Stephanie Ragusa, former Davidsen Middle School teacher, is accused of having sex with two students.

Farnell middle school teacher accused of molesting 14-year-old boy 02/04/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 12:27am]
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