SCSO teacher failed to report relationship between student, adult volunteer, deputies say

James Brendlinger arrested Friday

James Brendlinger
James Brendlinger

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A Lake Howell High School theater teacher was arrested Friday for not reporting a sexual relationship between an adult volunteer at the school and a student, officials said.

Seminole County Sheriff's Office officials said the student told the teacher, James Brendlinger, on March 16 that she was in a sexual relationship with the adult volunteer for the theater class.

On March 28, a notification was made by the student to an abuse hotline about the relationship, deputies said.

Brendlinger admitted on April 5 that he knew about the relationship and didn't report it, Sheriff's Office officials said.

"Mr. Bredinger was immediately placed on administrative leave with pay Friday, April 6, pending further investigation," a Seminole County Public Schools representative said in a statement. "A decision regarding further discipline will be determined upon completion of the law enforcement and district investigation."

Brendlinger was arrested Friday and charged with failure to report suspected child sexual abuse. He was taken to the John E. Polk Correctional Facility, where he was booked. He posted $2,000 bail later that night.

Seminole County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kim Canaday said detectives are working with the State Attorney's Office to prosecute the volunteer.

"What you have to understand is sometimes these young victims fail to see they're being victimized. So even if they are 'willing participants,' they are not of an age where they can legally consent to this kind of activity," Canaday said. "We're working with them to see what we can do to get him charged."

Canaday said the State Attorney's Office doesn't need the victim to press charges, because the state is technically the victim, too.

"We want (the victim) to understand they came forward and we're so grateful that they did because now we can stop any other possible victims from being abused," Canaday said. "We want to get them to the point that they realize it's OK and they are not going to fail them as maybe this teacher had."

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