Substitute teacher accused of inappropriately touching female students

More victims possible, deputies say

OCALA, Fla. – A Lake Weir High School substitute teacher is accused of inappropriately touching at least two female students, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said the two most recent cases mark the fourth and fifth times that Timothy Cooke, 58, has been investigated since 2009. One case is still open and two were closed because of a lack of prosecution.

A student told deputies that she was in Cooke's class grading papers on Jan. 19 when Cooke approached her from behind and grabbed her buttocks, a news release said. The girl tried to move away, but Cooke pulled her back, deputies said.

When he was asked about the encounter, Cooke told deputies: "If she said I touched her, maybe I did" and "Something could have happened, who knows?," according to authorities.

During the investigation, deputies spoke with another student who said Cooke fondled her breast, the report said. The victim had to pry herself out of Cooke's tight grip, according to deputies. The girl transferred to a different school after the incident to avoid further contact with Cooke.

The first time a student complained about Cooke was Oct. 16, 2009, records show. A student said she was sent to in school suspension because her outfit did not comply with the dress code. The girl told deputies that Cooke, who was supervising the students, intentionally threw a bead down her shirt, deputies said.

She said Cooke often stares at her breasts instead of looking her in the eyes. Cooke told deputies that he intentionally threw a bead down the student's shirt, the report said. 

He called the victim "flirtatious" and said it's difficult "not to look" at the students' bodies because of the clothes they wear, deputies said.

The girl declined to press charges.

In March 2016, an 18-year-old student told deputies that Cooke was too friendly with her and touched her inner thigh. She said he also placed his hands low below her waist when they hugged, the report said. That case is listed as active. 

Details on the other closed investigation were not provided.

Cooke was arrested Wednesday on one count of simple battery and one count of simple battery on a juvenile. He has since bonded out of jail.

Deputies said Cooke could have more victims and they're asking anyone with information to call the Marion County Sheriff's Office at 352-732-9111.