JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Duval County Public Schools teacher has been arrested on multiple sexual battery charges on victims less than 12 years of age.
Michael Lloyd Worrell, 61, was arrested Tuesday night after three different juveniles came forward and reported that Worrell "sexually assaulted them in various local hotels," according to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report.
The assaults took place between 2006 and 2012. Worrell faces four sexual battery charges on a victim younger than 12 and one charge of lewd/lascivious conduct on a victim less than 16, according to the report.
Worrell was hired by DCPS in 2003 as a substitute teacher. He then began teaching fourth grade at S.P. Livingston Elementary School in 2006.
After that, Worrell taught at Paxon Middle School from 2009-2011, and then fourth grade at Greenfield Elementary School during the 2011-2012 school year. He started the 2012-2013 school year at Greenfield on August 20 and was removed from the classroom August 22, according to DCPS spokesperson Jill Johnson.
"The Duval Schools family is extremely concerned by the allegations against a teacher at Greenfield Elementary School. Based on new processes and enhanced communication between agencies, the district removed this teacher from the classroom immediately upon notification of an investigation into inappropriate behavior off campus," Johnson said.
According to his personnel file, Worrell was formerly a Navy disbursing/finance clerk. A letter from a former supervisor attested to his "integrity" and "high moral character."
An FDLE background check from 2006-2008 said no Florida or national criminal history was identified.
Parents who were at Greenfield Elementary to pick up their children Wednesday afternoon expressed outrage.
"It's pretty scary," said Tamar Foster, who has two children at the school. "I feel bad for these children, but it's a lesson. Maybe they'll do better, more thorough checks, better background checks then."
Dr. Stephen Bloomfield, a psychologist, told First Coast News several things parents can do to know or find out if their children are victims of this type crime.
"Avoid use of secrets with children. They will be less likely to keep one. Be leary of adults smitten with your children and giving them gifts. Talk to kids early on about good and bad touching and continue that conversation while they are adolescents. Listen when kids talk. Victims have told psychologists they tried to tell, but no one was listening because they weren't being explicit enough or it did not seem real to parents."
Bloomfield said it is most important to pay attention to your child's rhythms and interactions.
"The biggest symptoms for young children and adolescents are mood change, changes in school performance and changes in activities. A child who is usually happy is now reluctant and sad, staying in their room, a child who is doing OK in school is now failing, a child who is active in extracurricular activities is now not doing anything."
Bloomfield said then is the time to talk to your child about what is up. He also said to create an environment early on where the child feels comfortable talking about things like that with the parent.
First Coast News