Polk varsity coach arrested for touching a student - WFLA News Channel 8

Polk varsity coach arrested for touching a student

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POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The Lake Region High School girls' varsity basketball coach has been arrested on charges of inappropriately touching a 15-year-old female student.

According to a sheriff's affidavit, the incident happened on Aug. 30 between noon and 1:40 p.m., while Cope was working as the In School Suspension ESE Para-Instructor.

"During the classroom session, he intentionally and unlawfully touched the victim's breast on top of her clothing," the affidavit stated.

The teenager had been given an In School Suspension on the date of the alleged incident. During the session, another student had requested to use the bathroom. This left the teenager and Mr. Cope alone.

The affidavit stated that Cope "approached her and touched her neck area with an open left hand." It went to on to state "Mr. Cope then slid his left hand on top of her left breast and fondled her breast for a few seconds on top of her clothing."  A short time later, Mr. Cope reportedly slapped the girl on her buttocks.  

Cope initially strongly denied the allegations. On Thursday, he told investigators he "made a mistake and confessed he reached out and touched the victim's breast as she described." Cope called it a "momentary lapse" that was "spur of the moment."

Polk county officials said 52-year-old Michael Cope, a Winter Haven homeowner, was charged on Thursday with one count of lewd/lascivious molestation.

Cope was placed on administrative leave Wednesday, according to school district officials. He was originally hired as a paraeductor in 1986. He coached girls' basketball since 2008. His personnel file contains no disciplinary action.

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