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Tampa parks employee who coached youth football faces molestation charges

Davarius Durham is
a Tampa parks employee who worked with children for five years.
[Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]
Davarius Durham is a Tampa parks employee who worked with children for five years. [Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]
Published Apr. 16, 2016

TAMPA — A 27-year-old city parks employee and youth football coach has been arrested on charges he inappropriately touched two 14-year-old boys and solicited nude photos from a 15-year-old boy, authorities said.

Davarius Durham spent the past five years working with children while employed by the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department and spent two seasons coaching for the Tampa Bay Youth Football League from 2014-15.

Durham is accused of molesting the two boys and using a messaging app to try to get a third boy to send him nude photos for $70, according to investigations conducted by the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

He coached all three victims in football, police said, but it was unclear if he met all three through TBYFL. Police said he did not meet any of the victims through his city job.

"We're very angry," said TBYFL president Scott Levinson. "We're angry because we did our due diligence, because we took in a volunteer, a city parks and rec employee, who deals with children."

The investigation began when another parks employee told his supervisor he was worried about Durham's activity. The investigation started March 9, police said, and the next day city officials said they moved Durham from his position working with children to a fitness center that has no youth program. It does not appear that Durham was under investigation while he was still coaching for the TBYFL last fall.

As Tampa police investigated the messages to the 15-year-old, they discovered the two other molestation victims.

Police said that between Dec. 12 and Feb. 29, Durham sent messages to the 15-year-old asking for inappropriate photos. The boy didn't send him any.

The Sheriff's Office said Durham repeatedly molested one of the 14-year-olds between January 2014 and February 2016 and the other 14-year-old between June and December of 2015.

Durham started working for the city of Tampa in 2011 as a part-time rec leader, officials said. In August 2014 he was a part-time gymnastics instructor for the city, officials said, and by November 2014 he was full time, working in an after-school program with children.

Levinson said Durham also coached children in another athletic league in Tampa.

Police don't think Durham contacted boys through his job with the parks program. The investigation is continuing.

Levinson said TBYFL conducts background checks on coaches and volunteers, checking records nationally and in Florida. Durham came up clean. He has no prior criminal record in Florida, records show.

"If we can't count on our own government," Levinson said, "who can we count on?"

While under investigation, police said Durham fled Tampa on April 6. The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force arrested him at a family member's home in Miami Gardens on April 8. He was brought back to Hillsborough County on Thursday and booked into the jail.

Durham, of 10610 N 30th St., Apartment B, faces two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under the age of 18, lewd or lascivious solicitation, use of a computer device to solicit and unlawful use of a communications device.

He was being held in the county jail Friday in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale.