Palmetto teacher faces sexual battery charges
February 26, 2016
UPDATED: March 21 4:34 PM
At today’s arraignment hearing, Meyers appeared before Judge Cristina Miranda and pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual battery with a minor. The trial hearing is scheduled to begin on June 13, 2016, at 9:45 AM.
UPDATED: March 20 11:08 PM
30 days after being arrested on probable cause for alleged sexual battery, former Palmetto teacher Jason Meyers’ pretrial court hearing occurred at 9:45 AM Friday. Judge Dava Tunis, who filled in for Judge Cristina Miranda, decided to schedule another hearing for Monday, March 21, aimed to raise Meyers’ bond. Meyers, still on house arrest, did not appear at court on his lawyer’s order and is expected to appear in court Monday because Judge Tunis wants him present for any progression in the case.
Due to Meyers’ absence, the hearing lasted for about only five minutes and the trial will continue at approximately 9:45 AM tomorrow, with Meyers facing three counts of sexual battery with a minor.
On Thursday, February 18, Palmetto English and creative writing teacher Jason Meyers was arrested on a charge of sexual battery on a minor. Meyers, 40, began his teaching career in 2000 and was terminated by MPSH immediately upon his arrest.
In a statement to parents and faculty, Principal Victoria Dobbs addressed the “disturbing allegation” as “a betrayal of the student/teacher professional conduct” expected at Palmetto.
Meyers was initially arrested on probable cause and spent Thursday and Friday night at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Northwest Miami-Dade County, after an appearance in bond court. On Saturday, Meyers was transitioned to house arrest, where he will be forced to wear a GPS tracker and avoid contact with the alleged victim, after posting a $75,000 bond. His wife, Kimberly, is also an English teacher at Palmetto and the two have three children together, with another on the way.
Before his arrest and subsequent termination, Meyers notably started Poetry Night, sponsored the Creative Writing club at Palmetto and taught Advanced Placement English Literature.
The allegations against Meyers came after a female student stepped forward and exposed the situation, claiming they engaged in sexual activity on at least two separate occasions inside his classroom after school.
If Meyers is charged he could face up to fifteen years imprisoned if tried as a second-degree felony, given that the alleged victim was a 17-year old student at the time of the claimed incidents.
When students found out about the arrest through the statement from Dobbs, the student body shared differing views on Meyers, with some defending their teacher and others praising the swift action of the school board and the administration.
Meyers’ first and fourth period AP English Literature classes will be taught temporarily by Ms. Andrea Spivak, with Ms. Loni Perse taking over his third period AP English Literature class. Ms. Monica Rodriguez is taking over his second period creative writing students and Ms. Lourdes Montiel teaching his fifth period English I honors class.
This incident at Palmetto is the third one within the last 20 years. Last year, music teacher Christopher Scottlevin Best was arrested and charged with 10 counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor; however, the charges were later dropped by the student.
In 1997, music teacher George Crear III was similarly acquitted, after a high-profile trial in which he was accused of having sex with at least four female students in his car, promising each to leave his wife to be with them. Despite the fact that Crear was found innocent, one of the victims committed suicide during the trial when she found out that his oath to her was distorted.
As for Meyers, his trial will begin on March 18 and will be carried out by Miami-Dade County at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building.