A former Umatilla High School teacher is facing sexual battery charges after officials said he carried on a months-long sexual relationship with a student who was suffering from several mental health issues.
William Rutledge, 37, began the relationship with a 16-year-old student in May 2019 and ended it in December 2019. Investigators said the student has several mental health issues including PTSD, bipolar disorder, adjustment disorder and persistent depressive disorder.
“It’s pretty sick,” Sgt. Sarah Coursey said.
Officials said Rutledge reported for work at Oak Park Middle School on Jan. 7 and then quickly resigned by sending the principal an email. Rutledge told investigators he was trying to help the teen because she was a troubled youth, but investigators say he took advantage of her.
An investigation was launched in early January when the victim told a therapist about the relationship.
The student told investigators the two had been texting and Facebook messaging each other before it became physical, and they immediately “hit it off.” The student also told investigators the relationship was consensual, and that she had sent him nude photographs.
Investigators said Rutledge had sex with the teen in his Tavares home. Rutledge told them he admits to texting the student but denies having sex with her.
“He did not admit that to us, but in text messages that we have, he never denies it when she is talking to him,” Coursey said.
Rutledge has since bonded out. Channel 9 knocked on his door, but nobody answered.
Police are checking to see if there could be other potential victims.
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