MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A high school track coach and dean at Lake Weir Middle School is accused of touching a student at the school and investigators believe there may be other victims. according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
Henry Anderson, 40, was arrested Thursday after deputies said he gave inconsistent answers when questioned about the accusations.
Records show the victim contacted the sheriff’s office Thursday. Deputies said she claimed Anderson, who coaches the varsity track and field team at Lake Weir High School, had picked her up at her home Wednesday around 10 p.m. for a workout.
Deputies also said they weren’t sure how he got into the school that late or what policies at the school might allow faculty to enter that late.
The girl said Anderson took her to the weight room at the school, where the pair did a leg exercise routine, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The victim claimed Anderson then gave her a leg massage, which she claimed was not uncommon, but said that this time the coach began to touch her inappropriately, including removing her shorts.
Deputies said when the man stepped out of the room, the victim contacted her friend on her cellphone. Investigators said the timestamps on those communications helped to corroborate the victim’s account of what happened.
Furthermore, deputies said a janitor saw the victim and Anderson in the gym that night.
The girl then asked to be taken home, records show. The victim said the coach tried to get her to continue with the massage, but eventually took her home around 1:30 a.m.
Deputies said Anderson, when questioned, initially said he picked up the girl at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, though he later changed his story to say it was 9:45 p.m.
He also claimed to have a good relationship with the victim, though he later said that she was angry with him for not allowing her to compete, the affidavit stated. Anderson even claimed the girl had threatened to get him fired, records show.
Deputies said these statements contradicted Anderson’s claim that he had a good relationship with the victim.
He also denied ever giving the victim a message, though he later said that the team occasionally used a handheld massage gun, records show.
Deputies asked if that is what he had used on the night of the incident. Investigators said Anderson first exclaimed “Yes,” then retracted the statement and said he had no physical contact with her.
Anderson was then arrested and taken to the Marion County jail.
He faces a charge of sexual battery on a victim 12 years of age or older but younger than 18.
According to the school district, he is also “on paid administrative leave pending the outcomes of law enforcement and school district investigations (and) not allowed on any MCPS property.”
School officials said Anderson was hired as a paraprofessional in November 2016 at West Port High School before being transferred to Forest High School in August 2017, where he served as an Autism Spectrum Disorder teacher.
He later resigned in May 2018 due to not meeting state-required certifications and was rehired in January 2019 as Student Services Manager at Lake Weir Middle School, where he later served as dean, school officials said.
“Mr. Anderson cleared all state-mandated background checks before being hired by MCPS,” Marion County Public Schools said in a statement. “He received a written reprimand in March 2022 for intentionally missing a dean’s meeting without permission. Otherwise, his employment record is clear and he has positive evaluations for his job performance.”
Investigators believe that because of his position at the school and access to children, there may be more victims.
If you or anyone you know may have been a victim, call the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at 352-398-3535 or 352-368-3548.