RIVERVIEW — The head football coach at Spoto High School was arrested Wednesday and removed from his teaching job after he was accused of inappropriately touching and soliciting a student in class, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Melvin Jenkins, 35, of Bartow, faces a charge of soliciting or engaging in sex with a student. He was hired in August 2017 by the Hillsborough County School District, teaches business technology and coaches the Spartans' varsity football team.
The allegations against Jenkins are detailed in an arrest warrant and a search warrant. The report said Jenkins approached the student, who was seated near his classroom desk, on Dec. 6. The student was playing a smartphone game called 8-Ball, and the report said Jenkins asked for the student's cell number so they could play it together. They did that, and also started exchanging text messages.
Later that day, Jenkins texted the student to meet him in his classroom. The student arrived at around 10:30 a.m. Jenkins asked the student if they were dating anyone, the report said. "If I knew you back then I would have been in trouble because we would have gotten into something," Jenkins told the student, according to the warrant.
The student asked Jenkins what he meant, but said Jenkins didn't respond. Then the coach pulled the student in for a hug and inappropriately touched them, the report said.
"You know what you are doing," Jenkins said twice, the student said, before they could push him away. Teacher and student were alone for about 10 minutes. The student then reported the incident.
Then the student took part in a recorded Dec. 6 phone call with Jenkins at the behest of deputies, according to the search warrant. The student sat in the deputy's unmarked cruiser, parked in front of Sparkman Wharf, and called Jenkins at about 8:30 a.m.
"Why did you touch me? Like that is not okay," the student told the teacher, according to the warrant.
"It's not," Jenkins replied, adding: "We should not have been in the same place with each other,"
The student started to crty. "What you did earlier, I don't think it's okay," the student told Jenkins, according to the report. Jenkins' response: "O-M-G. No, no, no. Aw man, nah nah nah."
The next day, sheriff's investigators confiscated Jenkins' cell phone and spoke to him. He admitted to texting the student, asking them to meet him alone, the arrest report said. He was removed from his job that Dec. 7 day and has been since notified that he must meet with the district's Office of Professional Standards. Jenkins was freed from the county jail on Wednesday after posting $7,500 bail. He could not be reached for comment. Contact Paul Guzzo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @PGuzzoTimes