According to a Leon County Sheriff’s Office press release, on April 29, 2021, Professor Gari Tookes was arrested on three counts of child molestation charges (sexual battery, lewd and lascivious battery, and lewd and lascivious molestation) in Tallahassee, Florida.
Gari Tookes, age 36, a prominent professor at Florida A&M University and Social Worker, was charged with sexually abusing a minor. Investigators say the abuse began when the child was in elementary school and continue until the boy was a teenager.
Media reports indicate that on February 23, 2021, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office received information from the Florida Department of Children and Families stating that they received a report through the state hotline detailing the sexual abuse and battery of a minor allegedly made by Gari Tookes. The Sheriff’s Office stated, “Through investigative means, LCSO Violent Crimes detectives learned Tookes had criminal sexual contact with the victim for several years before the report. Detectives also learned Tookes had communicated through text messages about the sexual contact with the victim, which corroborated the victim’s initial report.”
The victim told investigators that Tookes touched him inappropriately and that the abuse “literally happened all the time.” Tookes was arrested and transported to the Leon County Detention Facility.
Tookes has been an assistant professor at the Florida A&M University’s College of Social Sciences and a research grantee at FAMU’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative. In a March 2020 announcement from the university, he was listed as the school’s Master of Social Work program director. The university originally hired him in August 2018. His relationship with the university is under review.
According to Florida Department of Health records, Tookes is also a clinical social worker, with a license issued in 2016 and valid through 2023.
Schools are educational institutions in which children can learn and develop skills in a nurturing environment. It is expected that they are safe from violence, bullying, harassment, and sexual abuse. Teachers are entrusted to facilitate learning and support the educational needs of their students. Someone who sexually violates young children has no place working in the school system. Any school in which such a crime is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential teachers and protect their students.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse in schools and other educational settings. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped, or sexually molested by a principal, teacher or another school employee, contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected] for a free consultation.