TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Hillsborough County judge set bond at $50,000 for a Tampa basketball coach who is accused of having sex with a student four years ago.
Reginald Jamal Lawrence, 48, a girls’ varsity basketball coach at Tampa Bay Technical High School was arrested Tuesday and charged with six counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said the alleged misconduct happened six times at Lawrence’s home in 2016, when the alleged victim was a student at the school. She has since graduated.
Deputies were able to obtain a warrant for Lawrence’s arrest on Tuesday. He was taken to
the Orient Road Jail, where he is being held on a $90,000 bond. That bond was reduced in court.
“He’s been a teacher, very well respected. Apparently he’s very successful as a basketball coach at Tampa Tech. He’s loved by most of his students. He’s dumbfounded by this,” said the suspect’s attorney, Frank DelaGrana.
Lawrence’s mother spoke to 8 On Your Side over the phone Wednesday, saying her son is a wonderful young man.
“I’m appalled this is happening to him,” Carol Lawrence said. “They know his character and what kind of person he is. I guess I failed as a mom because I never exposed him to the evil.”
An arrest warrant shows that Lawrence admitted to the sexual encounters during a phone call with investigators listening in.
“There was a controlled phone call, but I don’t think that phone call leads to much. My client never admitted to anything in that call, because he never did anything,” DelaGrana said.
Judge Catherine M. Catlin said Lawrence refused to come out during the hearing, which was conducted via CCTV. His attorney spoke on his behalf.
If Lawrence posts bond and leaves jail, he will be required to wear an ankle monitor and cannot leave home. He is also prohibited from having contact with the victim or being around minors, the judge said.
Sheriff’s investigators will try to determine if there are more victims.
“At this point we don’t know if there are any other victims. That’s why we’re encouraging anybody that might have any information, or might be a victim of his, to please call us,” said Merissa Lynn, a spokeswoman from the agency.
A Hillsborough County School District spokeswoman sent this statement to 8 On Your Side:
“We are shocked and deeply troubled by these charges. Our parents expected this individual to protect their children and he broke that trust. He will not be returning to our campus and is on administrative leave pending termination.”
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