A former Franklin County High School teacher and assistant football coach will face a second trial next month on a charge of lewd and lascivious molestation of an underage female student.
After a six-person jury of four men and two women deliberated four-and-one-half hours Friday, unable to reach a verdict, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis declared a mistrial that afternoon in the felony case against Gerald D. Tate, 31, of Apalachicola.
The retrial is scheduled to come before Lewis on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 13.
Tate was arrested Sept. 24, 2014 after being questioned regarding an incident dating back to the final week of the 2013-14 school year.
A news release from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation was initiated by the sheriff’s office on Sept. 12, 2014, after Superintendent Nina Marks contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families, and the sheriff’s office.
Marks said during the first week of Sept. 2104,, the student, who was 15 at the time, told school officials Tate had made inappropriate comments to her, and that the following week, Marks contacted DCF and the sheriff’s office to further investigate the matter.
Detective Brett Johnson, who testified at last week’s trial, said the underage female made multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Tate during a two-week investigation, and that investigators were able to confirm Tate “sexually molested a child and threatened that there would be consequences if anyone was told about it.”
Crime scene technicians from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) tested carpet in a specific location identified by the victim and found it positive for semen, according to a report filed by Detective Duane Cook.
Cook’s probable cause affidavit said the incident occurred in Room 1017 of Building #1000, and that the female student alleged Tate “forced her to masturbate him until he ejaculated on the floor. “
Cook’s report said Tate confirmed to investigators he was alone in his classroom with the student sometime on the afternoon of the day in question, and that she “became very flirtatious” and grabbed his genitals. He told police he had then stimulated himself.
The alleged crime is a second-degree felony, and pertains to sexual acts by an adult with a minor between age 12 and 16. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
In addition to the alleged victim, testifying at last week’s trial was teacher Kassi Malcolm, staffer Teresa Segree, and FDLE staffers Amy George and Jack Martin.
The father of the victim also has lodged a civil suit against both Tate and the school district, alleging that “nothing was done to Tate at all” by the district after it learned of the alleged incident.
The district, which has disputed the claims made by the plaintiff, has had that case moved to federal court in Tallahassee.