tampabay.com

High school coach accused of having sex with student

The Hillsborough teacher is being held at a Tampa jail.

By ANDREW MEACHAM and LETITIA STEIN, Times Staff Writer
Published February 1, 2008


TAMPA - A Newsome High School soccer coach was arrested Thursday night on seven counts of unlawful sex with a 17-year-old girl.

Hillsborough sheriff's deputies arrested Ronald Lewis, 37, after investigating reports that he had multiple sexual encounters with the teenager between February and November 2007.

Authorities did not say how Lewis and the teen met. When asked if the girl was a student at Newsome, school district spokesman Stephen Hegarty said, "That's my understanding."

According to the Sheriff's Office, Lewis in January admitted the affair to a juvenile witness, saying he and the 17-year-old had been having a sexual relationship since February 2007. She is now 18.

The trysts occurred in Lewis' Valrico home at 1505 Crooked Stick Drive, and also in his Jeep Wrangler, officials say. The teen also acknowledged the relationship to investigators.

Lewis was arrested at his home and taken to the Orient Road Jail, where he was being held late Thursday in lieu of $52,500 bail.

Lewis, a computer lab manager and coach who has worked at the east Hillsborough school since August, was removed from a classroom Wednesday - the same day an assistant principal received a tip from a parent claiming that Lewis had engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student.

He is suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation.

Lewis was not the only teacher to run afoul of authorities Thursday. At South Tampa's Plant High, physics teacher Christopher Gillis, 22, was removed from the school following allegations that he sent inappropriate e-mails to a female student.

Gillis, who began teaching with the school system in August, was pulled from the Plant classroom on Thursday so district officials could investigate.

Letitia Stein can be reached at lstein@sptimes.com or 813 226-3400.