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Former Heartland Christian teacher faces more charges

According to the Highlands Sun-News, a follow-up interview with a 15-year-old female student provided new information regarding additional sexual offenses against Jack Charles Howard III, 28, who was a physical education teacher and coach at Heartland Christian Academy.

Howard was arrested and charged Friday with sexual battery (custodial authority) of a victim between 12 and 17 years old and lewd/lascivious behavior with the victim between 12 and 17 years old, according to a Sebring Police report.

The sexual offenses, which occurred July 1, 2018 at Heartland Christian Academy, were intentional by the defendant and against the will of the victim, the report states.

Howard was initially arrested in January on a charge of lewd and lascivious behavior involving a female student at Heartland Christian.

On Feb. 7, Howard incurred the additional charges of four counts of lewd and lascivious behavior and one count of battery after three more victims were identified by authorities.

The charges stem from incidents that occurred on the school’s campus between August 2018 and January 2019 involving a total of four female victims between the ages of 12-16, according to Assistant State Attorney Courtney Lenhart.

Howard was released on bond after his initial arrest on Jan. 9 and then released on Feb. 8 after posting a $105,000 bond following his Feb. 7 arrest on the additional charges.

Now Howard remains in the Highlands County Jail with no bond on his latest charges until his first appearance in court.

Jeff Herman of Herman Law, Boca Raton, filed a lawsuit recently, on behalf of students, against Heartland Christian Academy claiming the school, “knew or should have known of Jack Charles Howard III’s dangerous sexual propensities and that he was unfit to serve in any position within the school involving contact with female students.”

Heartland Christian Academy Director Rebekah Kogelschatz was served with a summons Wednesday informing the school that it has 20 calendar days to respond to the lawsuit.

The State of Florida Education Practices Commission revoked Howard’s educator’s certificate for five years based on a complaint that he was a substitute teacher in the Highlands County School District on Nov. 5, 2014, when he had sexual intercourse with a female teacher on campus in an area that was accessible to students.



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