Authorities say a Lakeland history teacher inappropriately approached two female students and groped at least one of them.
Derek Stribling, 39, worked as a teacher at Crossroads Christian School. He was arrested at his home on Thursday night, just hours after detectives say they discovered he’d sent explicit texts to a 14-year-old girl and another student over the age of 18.
According to detectives, the older student told them On Valentine’s Day, Stribling asked for her phone number. According to investigators, he told her he could check on her after she had an argument with her father.
“Stribling told the victim that she had a ‘D’ in his class, and she could get extra credit to help her grades,” the sheriff’s office wrote in an email. “He initiated a sexual conversation via text and on the FaceTime app.”
According to the sheriff’s office, Stribling then showed the student his private parts while he was fondling himself.
“On another occasion, Stribling tried unsuccessfully to get the victim to meet him in a hotel parking lot for oral sex, but she refused,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
According to investigators, Stribling asked the younger student to meet her in the gym’s equipment closet when he was her basketball coach.
“The victim said that Stribling began kissing her while rubbing her breast and buttocks over her clothing. She also reported that he began communicating with her via the Snapchat app and text messaging, and he called her twice via video chat in which he showed himself masturbating,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
Stribling allegedly tried to molest her more than once, according to law enforcement, but she refused.
“For a 39-year-old married deviant to do this to two teens is horrible as it is, but when you add in that he’s a teacher doing this to his students – it infuriates me. Most teachers do everything they can to protect their students, but this guy was the complete opposite,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd wrote in a statement.
“He preyed on them for his own sick desires, and he should never be allowed to be near children again,” Judd added.
Stribling has been charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor, lewd/lascivious conduct, offenses against students by an authority figure, and transmitting harmful material to a minor.