AVON PARK — A 13-year-old Avon Park Middle School student told investigators that the best evidence of her relationship with a coach/teacher would be images of sexual intercourse she had sent to the teacher and the images he had taken while the two had sexual intercourse.
With a search warrant, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office seized Avon Park Middle School teacher Kevin Dewayne Dewberry’s cellphone, which had many nude and sexually inappropriate videos of the student, an arrest report shows.
An arrest warrant was filed Tuesday afternoon for the 44-year-old Dewberry, who turned himself in at the Highlands County Jail shortly before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Following a forensic investigation of Dewberry’s cellphone, he was charged Wednesday evening with 55 counts of possession of child pornography. The warrant was served on Dewberry, of 506 E. Canfield St., at the Highlands County Jail, where he is in custody on four counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a victim between 12-16.
His bond on the initial charge has been set at $400,000.
The arrest report states that the student would tell her family she was going to a friend’s house, but she would meet Dewberry down the road from her house. He would drive her to his friend’s apartment where she and Dewberry would have sex.
The incidents of sexual intercourse started October 2017 with the last incident on “Super Bowl Sunday,” Feb. 4, 2018, the report shows.
The School Board of Highlands County placed Dewberry on administrative leave without pay.
The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office was notified by school officials on Friday, Feb. 23 that a 13-year-old student had made allegations she had been involved in a sexual relationship with Dewberry.
Avon Park Middle principal Page Green told the school resource deputy she was immediately suspending Dewberry and had already contacted the Department of Children and Families, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The Special Victims Unit immediately launched an investigation, seizing Dewberry’s phone before he left campus. The investigation revealed that the alleged sexual relationship had begun in October.
The victim said she and Dewberry had sex four times and had also exchanged sexually explicit video messages, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“I want to commend the staff at Avon Park Middle School for taking immediate action when they learned of the allegations and for quickly notifying the school resource deputy,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said in a statement. “The Special Victims Unit detectives have worked hard since then to develop evidence.
“We take any allegations involving children very seriously and are continuing to investigate this case.”
Dewberry has been employed with the School Board for 13 years overall. He was initially hired in 2004 and taught at Hill-Gustat Middle School for two years before taking a job at the Hopewell Academy charter school, where he served as the head administrator. He returned to the school district in the 2008-09 school year, teaching at Memorial Elementary School until June 2013, when he moved to Avon Park Middle School. He was also a boys basketball coach at Avon Park High School and last year was a girls basketball coach at Avon Park Middle.
Dewberry is not listed among the Avon Park Middle staff on the school website.
The investigation is ongoing and more charges may follow. Anyone with any information about this case or with any knowledge that could assist investigators is asked to contact Detective Lars Kirkegard at 863-402-7358 or leave a tip with Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS or visit www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.
Crime Stoppers tips are anonymous and could lead to a cash reward.