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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Belleview teacher charged with molestation faced similar complaint in 2008

Kevin Tindall

A Belleview Elementary School teacher who was arrested last week on charges of lewd and lascivious molestation involving two students faced a similar complaint 11 years ago.

Kevin Wayne Tindall, 47, of Summerfield, a longtime music teacher at the school, was taken into custody Thursday after an investigation led Belleview Police officers to believe that he had recently “inappropriately” touched two students under the age of 12, a Belleview Police report says.

The police department initially received a report of the alleged incident on Jan. 9 and alerted officials at the Marion County School District. Tindall was immediately removed from his classroom by the principal and the school resource officer and then placed on administrative leave by the school district, the report states.

Records show that this isn’t the first time Tindall has faced such an investigation. A Feb. 21, 2008 Belleview Police report shows that he was accused of similar conduct with two other students but neither the Florida Department of Children and Families nor the State Attorney’s Office elected to move forward with that case. Tindall was then given a disciplinary letter by the Marion County School District about the incident, a school district spokesman said last Thursday.

Longtime Belleview Elementary School music teacher Kevin Tindall was removed from his classroom by the principal and school resource officer last week after allegations were made against him for inappropriately touching two students.

The 2008 police report says that a sergeant and a DCF representative spoke with the Belleview Elementary principal, who had placed a call to the Abuse Hotline about the alleged incidents. She told the sergeant that she had received a complaint from one of Tindall’s students who told his mother he was “uncomfortable in class because Mr. Tindall touched him,” the report states.

The student told the principal and his mother than Tindall “touched him on his chest while he was standing in line.” The student also said that he had been hit in his groin area by another student and when he complained of pain, “Mr. Tindall had reached toward his groin area but did not make contact with him,” the report says.

The principal said she had investigated the incident and given Tindall a “letter of counseling” per the school board. And she said the student had been moved to another classroom because he was uncomfortable being around Tindall, the report says.

The principal then told the sergeant that she had met with another student and his mother. She said that student claimed that “Mr. Tindall hugs him and touches his arms and chest, which makes him uncomfortable,” which prompted her to put Tindall on paid administrative leave and report both incidents to the DCF Hotline. She said she had moved the second student to a different classroom as well, the report says.

The sergeant contacted a Belleview Police detective, who also responded to the school. They then spoke with one of the students, who stated that “he had been touched by Mr. Tindall several times in the classroom” and that “he hugs him, sometimes squeezes his arm, has touched his chest, and on one occasion stood behind him and squeezed his hip area with his hands,” the report says, adding that the student became very upset when he said Tindall had “also squeezed his upper thigh area.”

The student said he had not been touched elsewhere but became visibly upset when questioned about that. That prompted the detective to stop the interview, contact the student’s mother and request that she come to the school. Once there, the detective asked her to bring the student to the Belleview Police station for a further interview, the report says.

On Feb. 25, 2008, Tindall came to the police station and spoke with the detective. He was advised of his rights and then said he was “very sorry for making the students feel uncomfortable.” He said that was “not his intention.” And he denied touching the student “on the thigh and on the hips,” the report says.

Tindall did, however, tell the detective that “he touches his students.” He said he may “walk up behind” a student and “pat them on the back or chest area in an attempt to provide positive reinforcement.” But he denied ever attempting to “hurt a student” or “touch them in a sexual nature,” the report says.

Three days later, the detective went to Kimberly’s Cottage in Ocala and observed interviews with both students. The detective said the students’ statements were consistent with what he had been told earlier. He said he had obtained Tindall’s personnel file and would be researching it and had presented the case to the State Attorney’s Office.

On March 10, 2008, the detective spoke with representatives of the State Attorney’s Office and provided them with the findings in the case. He said he had reviewed Tindall’s personnel files from the school boards in Marion, Lake and Orange counties, as well as a file from Disney, where Tindall “would have been around children.” And he stated that he found nothing indicating that “conduct like this had occurred before,” the report says.

Both State Attorneys then agreed that the 2008 case would not be prosecuted and it was closed, the report says.

Tindall, who lives at 14891 SE 73rd Ave. in Summerfield and has taught at Belleview Elementary School since 2002, was released from the Marion County Jail early Friday morning on $50,000 bond. His next court date hasn’t yet been set, according to the jail’s website.

Tindall, who received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida and is a graduate of Lake Weir High School, also received an associate of arts degree from Central Florida Community College. He remains on administrative leave and has been told that he’s not allowed to return to Belleview Elementary while on that leave, a school district spokesman said.

The current investigation is still active and Belleview Police say it is unclear if there are other potential victims. Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. Jody Backlund at (352) 245-7044.