TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Lakeland High School track coach has been arrested for allegedly sexually battering a teenager, according to deputies.
Sheriff Grady Judd said the victim told his mother that coach Jarvis Young, 40, touched him on Saturday, Aug. 26. Upon hearing of this, the minor’s mother told him to report the crime to the school resource deputy at Lakeland High School.
“We immediately called our detectives, and we determined that he was not only touched, he was actually sexually battered,” Judd said.
Judd said the interactions between the victim and the coach began when the victim asked Young to help him with strength and speed training.
The sheriff said on Aug. 26, Young picked the minor up from his house and took him to lunch. During lunch, authorities said Young offered to bring the weight equipment to the victim’s house and mentioned he was a massage therapist, although with no evidence of certification.
“Jarvis told him at lunch that he was a massage therapist, he buys him lunch, and he also buys him equipment,” Judd said. “We call that grooming.”
While shopping for missing parts with the victim, Young told the minor he needed to stop at the school to put up equipment there.
Judd said as the two set up the equipment at the school, Young offered to massage the victim to help his hamstrings, only to sexually batter him instead.
According to the sheriff, Young fled the state into Alabama during the investigation but was arrested on his return.
According to the sheriff, there were rumors among students that Young was known to give students gifts, but they would warn each other not to let the coach touch them. Judd said this leads people to believe he has other victims.
“We strongly believe he has inappropriately touched, battered, or possibly had sex with students in the past based upon the rumors that swirl around him and continue to swirl upon his arrest,” he said, urging parents and other victims to come forward.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Young had been arrested multiple times for alleged sex crimes against children, but he was not convicted.
Deputies said in 2011, Young was arrested on a charge of conspiracy to commit sexual battery by a person in authority by picking up two minors with another co-conspirator and sexually battering the victims. However, the case was dropped by the state attorney’s office because it passed the statute of limitations.
In 2017, a minor accused Young of touching him and unzipping his pants before the victim ran away, but charges were not filed.
“Make no mistake about it, this guy here is evil that will groom a 16-year-old kid, take advantage of that position of trust in order to sexually batter him, and when he made that abrupt action, the kid said take me home,” Judd said.
Judd said Young was a former athlete at Lakeland High School and hung around the sports program before he was hired.
Polk County Public Schools said it will investigate how Young got hired as a Lakeland High School coach, as said in the following statement from Superintendent Fred Heid:
I appreciate the work of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to investigate this matter, and take the necessary steps to protect students from further harm.
Our students and families should expect to be safe in the presence of school employees and coaches. The allegations against Jarvis Young are deeply disturbing. Although he was never convicted of any past incidents, I am extremely troubled that he was involved with our school system in any capacity.
PCPS will be conducting a thorough investigation into how Young was allowed to become a coach for Lakeland High. We also will be pulling a list and re-screening coaches who work with PCPS students, as well as other individuals who work with students in extracurricular programs. Furthermore, we intend to increase the frequency of our background checks and add extra measures to evaluate any past reports of inappropriate behavior.
PCPS will continue to cooperate fully with the Sheriff’s Office on this investigation. We encourage anyone with information about Jarvis Young to contact PCSO.
We will take a hard look at the circumstances that resulted in this individual working alongside students. I will do everything in my power to prevent this from happening again.Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Fred Heid
Young was charged with sexual battery by custodian/victim between 12-18, lewd & lascivious molestation, abuse of a child without bodily harm, interfering with custody of minor, and HIV-infected person having sex without informing partner.
A judge set bond at $350,000 Friday.
If you know anyone who is a potential victim, call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200.