CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Former Oakleaf High School assistant football coach Ben White was arrested Thursday and accused of inappropriately touching students at the school.
Clay County schools said its human resources department started an internal investigation in Feb. 2023 and reported the incident to Professional Practices Services (PPS) on March 22, 2023.
White, 40, who was also the girl’s weightlifting coach at the school at the time of the alleged incidents, faces one charge of lewd and lascivious molestation.
After his tenure at Oakleaf, White was hired to be the head football coach at Pedro Menendez on February 10 and resigned for personal reasons on March 3, a St. Johns County School District spokesperson said.
According to a Clay County District Schools Police Department report, White began exchanging inappropriate texts with at least one student in April 2022, but nothing in those texts rose to criminal charges. But, investigators said, several other students late came forward and reported being victimized by White and a detective started conducting interviews with them in February.
It’s not clear how many alleged victims came forward, but all of them were between 15 and 17 years old and attended Oakleaf High School, where White was also a teacher.
White was interviewed in March at Pedro Menendez High School and was confronted with the text messages he sent to students and allegations by female students. His response to the detective is redacted in the arrest report.
After his arrest, White was released after posting a $100,000 bond, according to jail records.
A judge assigned to the case ordered that White is not allowed to have contact with children or the victim.
“After the employee’s resignation in February 2023 to accept a position with another school district, allegations came forth regarding the employee. Clay County District Schools’ Police Department and Human Resources Department immediately began an investigation on the former employee. The District will not be commenting further to ensure there is no disruption to the case and to protect the privacy of those involved,” a Clay County School District spokesperson said.
White had been an employee of Clay schools since 2006.