Teacher tried to force sex, boy, 14, says
TAMPA - A teacher at Farnell Middle School was arrested Thursday, accused of trying to force a 14-year-old student to have sex with her. Tammy Renee Clinton, 39, of 15613 Eastbourn Drive in Odessa, was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Investigators said that in January, Clinton forced the boy to touch her breasts. She also touched his buttocks, deputies said. Clinton tried twice to entice the boy to meet her away from school grounds to have sex with him, investigators said. The most recent encounter happened Thursday, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.The teen confided about the situation to a teacher Tuesday at the end of the school day, said Linda Cobbe, a school district spokeswoman. The teacher told the school's administration, and the sheriff's office was contacted. The teacher wasn't removed from the class as the sheriff's office investigated the case, Cobbe said. Clinton, a sixth-grade geography teacher, is not the student's teacher. The teen is an eighth-grader, Cobbe said. "We did not want to impede their investigation," Cobbe said. Clinton was booked at Orient Road Jail. After being read her Miranda rights, she , told detectives the accusations were true, the sheriff's office said. "It's extremely unfortunate," Cobbe said. "It doesn't reflect on the vast majority of our teachers, and we don't tolerate it." Clinton - who lives at The Eagles, a gated golf community - joined the school district as a teacher in August 2002. She has always taught at Farnell Middle, 13912 9 Eagles Drive, and annually received satisfactory evaluations, Cobbe said. Clinton has never been reprimanded or investigated, she said. Clinton, who is certified to teach social studies, teaches about five periods a day and has about 22 students per class, she said. The principal of the 1,200-student school was planning to call all the parents Thursday evening and make them aware of the incident through an automated message, Cobbe said. "It's not something we tolerate," Cobbe said. "We want our schools to be safe, and this is not reflective of our hardworking teachers." In recent years, the district has had several arrests of teachers accused of having sexual relationships with students. Former Davidsen Middle School math teacher Stephanie Ragusa was arrested in March 2008 and accused of having sex three times with a 14-year-old boy. She was arrested a month later and charged with having sex with a 16-year-old boy as many as 20 times. Ragusa, 30, has pleaded not guilty. She has been in jail without bail since her second arrest. Debra LaFave, a former Greco Middle school English teacher, pleaded guilty in November 2005 to having sex with a 14-year-old male student. She was placed on three years of house arrest, followed by seven years of probation.
Reporter Jose Patino Girona can be reached at (813) 259-7659. Reporter Ray Reyes can be reached at (813) 259-7920.