JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An attorney for former Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (DA) teacher Jeffrey Clayton, who is accused of inappropriately touching an underage student in March, appeared briefly in court Tuesday.
Clayton, who has pleaded not guilty, was not in court, and the hearing was passed to Oct. 10.
Clayton, who was the vocal director at DA for more than two decades, is charged with two counts of offenses against students by authority figures, indecent lewd or lascivious touching of certain minors and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Clayton retired following his arrest earlier this year.
Personnel records show district leaders received multiple complaints against Clayton for more than a decade.
In September, the News4JAX I-TEAM obtained evidence against Clayton from the State Attorney’s Office that revealed he sent hundreds of disturbing texts to a student. It also included audio of phone calls Clayton made from jail to his wife, who has since filed for divorce.
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According to evidence provided by the State Attorney’s Office, the texts began last September and continued over a period of seven months eventually leading to phone conversations after midnight lasting more than a hour.
The records show Clayton texted a student in March: “I keep thinking of ways where I can kiss you again today.”
And in a text on March 18, the day after he was accused of kissing a student, which is a felony charge, he suggested to that same student that he was a victim.
“I would probably be crippled if I knew how much negative gossip went on about me, even though I am a highly decorated teacher and musician. People look for anything to cut you down. In this case, it involves me being nice to people, and being affectionate in a way that should be safe. I have too many examples of the other to support me, but it only takes one or two trying to destroy me,” he wrote.
Clayton’s attorney has declined to comment because of the ongoing criminal case.