CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A former swim coach at a private school in Clay County is accused of soliciting a teenage girl online for unlawful sexual conduct and sending several lewd images, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Mitchell Bentz, a former part-time swim coach at St. Johns Country Day School, was arrested Monday and booked into the Clay County jail. At a first-appearance hearing Tuesday morning, Bentz told a judge he was not aware the girl was 17. Bond was set at $50,000 bond with a requirement that he have no internet or social media access and wear a GPS monitor if released.
Jail records show Bentz, 24, is charged with one count of using of a computer to seduce, solicit or lure a child, and one count of transmission of material harmful to a minor by an electronic device.
The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation began in April and was carried out by the Sheriff’s Office’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) and Forensics Unit.
On Tuesday, according to a heavily redacted arrest report, a 17-year-old girl identified Bentz from an account as the same person she met while working. According to detectives, he solicited her for sex acts and sent her several lewd images.
That same day, detectives met Bentz at his work. He wasn’t arrested but spoke with detectives.
Investigators said he turned himself in Monday morning.
According to a letter that St. Johns Country Day School sent to parents, Bentz was a part-time swim coach. The letter states that as far as school leaders know, no students at the school were involved.
“The coach has not been on campus since we were made aware of the allegations (and will not be) and their employment with the school has been severed,” the letter states.
In the letter, the school encourages parents and students to reach out to officials if they have any concerns.
“I’m sure the school is handling it very well. They always have in the past. They’re a very professional school,” said Chris Fowler, a graduate of the school whose nephew is a current student there. “I went here fourth grade through 12th, and there was nothing like this, so I’m sure the current administration is doing a great job.”
A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office told News4Jax they don’t believe there are any more victims at this time.