PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said he is concerned a 75-year-old man has victimized children before.
“I can’t believe at this individual’s age, this is the first time this person did this. So that’s why we need to find out if there’s anybody else,” Sheriff Nocco said.
This week, Pasco deputies arrested Roger Gibbings on a charge of capital sexual battery of a child under the age of 12.
“It was a horrific crime. I’ll tell you — it was broad daylight. This guy was just blatant out there,” Sheriff Nocco said. “I want to give credit to the victim for coming forward, for hoping to prevent future victims out there.”
According to the sheriff’s office, Gibbings inappropriately touched, made obscene statements toward, and took explicit pictures of a child on Oct. 10.
The sheriff said it occurred on a bench while children were playing soccer outside at the Imagine School of Land o’ Lakes.
Because of a recent change in Florida law, Gibbings could now face the death penalty if convicted, a sheriff’s office spokesperson confirmed.
A representative from the state’s attorney’s office representing Pasco and Pinellas counties told News Channel 8 it is too early in the investigation to determine if prosecutors will seek the death penalty.
“He’s going to face judgment, whether it’s in this life or hereafter and he will face a jury. But at the same time, if there’s other victims out there, we need to get them help because I can’t imagine the horrors that they went through,” Nocco said.
Sheriff Nocco said his office was getting a search warrant to search Gibbings’ phone.
Gibbings was employed for several years by the aftercare program at the school known as “The Dragon’s Lair.”
He has since been terminated.
Stefanie Lowery, the regional director at the Imagine School, declined an on-camera interview but provided this statement:
“This school is extremely devastated. Nothing any parent or child should go through. Because of the legal matter and sensitivity, we cannot comment further. We are cooperating with authorities.”
In an email to parents, principal Aimee Williams said Gibbings underwent all necessary background checks and the investigation began after the student “bravely” spoke up about “feeling uncomfortable.”
“In light of this incident, we will be taking additional measures to further ensure the safety of our students. We will be retraining our staff and having conversations with teachers about the importance of reporting anything that may seem out of place,” wrote Williams in the email.
Sheriff Nocco said there are no reports of additional victims at this time but urges anyone who may be a victim, to come forward.
“We’re coming out here right now trying to tell everybody, please, if you know something about this coach, this individual, let us know,” he said.
Anyone with information can contact the PSO Crime Tips Line at 1-800-706-2488, or report tips online.