Timothy Cooke, a substitute teacher at Lake Weir High School in Ocala has been arrested on two counts of battery of a minor after deputies say he inappropriately touched two female students. Since 2009, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office has investigated five cases of simple battery on Lake Weir High School students by Cooke, with the two most recent cases culminating in his arrest.
According to one of the victims, she was helping Cooke grade papers when he approached her from behind and grabbed her buttocks. When she tried to move away from the girl, the child reported that Cooke grabbed her and pulled her back. During a follow-up investigation, another child reported that Cooke wrapped his arms around her and put his hand on her breast and squeezed tightly. Cooke has been fired by the School District of Marion County.
According to law enforcement, this is not the first time Cooke has faced similar accusations. The prior investigations did not result in the termination of Mr. Cooke’s employment or any criminal charges. Deputies believe Cooke may have more victims who have not yet come forward. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office states, “If you are a victim or know someone who is a victim of Cooke, please call the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at (352) 732-9111 or to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers of Marion County at (352) 368-STOP.”
Incidents such as this are a reminder that all allegations are sexual abuse must be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and that employers — especially those whose employees interact with children — must be especially vigilant in the supervision and protection of our children at all times.
Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits nationwide on behalf of victims of sex assault in public and private schools. You can reach Adam Horowitz at [email protected] or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.