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Thursday, Oct 02, 2014
Crime & Courts

Gymnastics coach had sex with teen, deputies say


Published:   |   Updated: July 31, 2014 at 10:39 AM

A gymnastics coach is facing sex charges after he was found in the closet of a 13-year-old girl with whom he had sex, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.

Justin Henry, 21, of Lakeland was found in the Brandon home by the mother of the teen who went to check on her daughter about 2 a.m. Wednesday and found the door locked. The home is in the 1400 block of Moss Laden Court.

The girl admitted to twice having sex with Henry at her house, said Debbie Carter, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman.

Henry is employed as a gymnastics coach at Elite World Gymnastics in Lakeland, according to jail records.

Carter wouldn’t say how Henry and the girl met and knew each other.

After he was found by the mother in the closet, Henry didn’t leave the Brandon home, and he was arrested there when deputies arrived, Carter said.

Henry faces a charge of lewd and lascivious battery. He was booked at the Hillsborough County Jail and released late Wednesday after posting $7,500 bond, according to jail records.

In May, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Henry on three counts of interfering with child custody, according a sheriff’s report.

The incident occurred April 19, when he picked up one of his gymnastics students and her two friends from her Lakeland home. All three girls were 14 years old, according to the sheriff’s office report.

He didn’t ask for permission from any of the parents or the homeowners to pick up the girls, and he didn’t go to the front door of the home. He picked up the girls in front of the subdivision, according to the sheriff’s report.

In his car, the three girls were allowed to drink alcohol, according to the sheriff’s report.

He drove them to Clearwater Beach in the middle of the night. During the drive to Clearwater, Henry rubbed the thigh of one of the girls and “asked her when could he call her his girlfriend,” according to the sheriff’s report.

Clearwater police performed a traffic stop on the vehicle. The three girls were in the car. The parents were notified, and the mother of one of the girls drove to Clearwater to pick them up, according to the sheriff’s report.

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