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Lakeland teacher arrested by Polk County Sheriff’s Office for inappropriate sexual conduct with two students

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Press Release

A teacher from Crossroads Christian School in Lakeland (615 Old Polk City Road) was arrested by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, after an investigation determined that he had inappropriate sexual conduct with two students at the school.

39-year old Derek Stribling of Lakeland was arrested at his home on Thursday, April 7, 2022 at about 10:52 PM. He refused to speak to detectives about the investigation and was transported to the PCSO Sheriff’s Processing Center where he was charged with Lewd/Lascivious Molestation of a Minor (F2), Lewd/Lascivious Conduct (F2), Offenses against Students by an Authority Figure (F2), and Transmit Material Harmful to a Minor (F3).

“For a 39-year old married deviant to do this to two teens is horrible as it is, but when you add in that he’s a teacher doing this to his students—it infuriates me. Most teachers do everything they can to protect their students, but this guy was the complete opposite. He preyed on them for his own sick desires, and he should never be allowed to be near children again.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff

Detectives from the PCSO Special Victims Unit began investigating Thursday morning after becoming aware that Stribling had sent explicit text messages to two of his female students. One of the students is over 18-years old, and the other was 14-years old at the time.

The adult student informed detectives that Stribling asked her for her phone number back on February 14, 2022, so he could check up on her after she had an argument with her father. Stribling told the victim that she had a “D” in his class, and she could get extra credit to help her grades. He initiated a sexual conversation via text and on the FaceTime app. During the video chat, Stribling showed his penis to the victim while he was masturbating. On another occasion, Stribling tried unsuccessfully to get the victim to meet him in a hotel parking lot for oral sex, but she refused.

The other student reported an incident which she said occurred in 2020 while Stribling was her basketball coach. She said that he had asked her to meet him in the gymnasium’s equipment closet. The victim said that Stribling began kissing her while rubbing her breast and buttocks over her clothing. She also reported that he began communicating with her via the Snapchat app and text messaging, and he called her twice via video chat in which he showed himself masturbating. She also claimed that he tried multiple times to get her to meet him to engage in oral sex, but she refused.

Both victims provided details of Stribling’s anatomy.

The detectives were told that Stribling serves as a teacher, dean, and basketball coach at the school. Any inquiries regarding his employment status at the school should be directed to them.

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