Central Florida high school coach accused of molesting girl

Michael Cope arrested on lewd/lasciviousness charge

Michael Cope.
Michael Cope.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – A Central Florida girls high school basketball coach was arrested Thursday on allegations of touching a student who was serving an in-school suspension.

Michael Sylvester Cope Sr., 52, a coach and instructor at Lake Region High School in Eagle Lake was arrested on a charge of lewd/lasciviousness molestation.

According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the 15-year-old girl was serving an in-school suspension when Cope touched her neck and slid his hand over her clothing on top of her breast for a few seconds. 

Another student returned to the room after leaving to use the restroom, and Cope asked that student to get a stapler, leaving him alone again with the 15-year-old, deputies said.

He then slapped her butt and told her not to tell anyone about the incident, according to deputies.

The girl, however, told the other student later that day, according to deputies.  The Sheriff's Office said he also told Cope the next day that she disclosed the information to the other girl, promoting Cope to say, "Oh Lord, why did you tell her?"

Cope initially denied touching the girl in an interview with detectives and later said he touched her breast accidentally, deputies said.  Cope later admitted to the act, saying it was a momentary lapse in judgement and he acted in the spur of the moment, deputies said.

Cope was arrested and taken to jail.