Teacher accused with having sexual relationship with minor, bringing gun to field trip
By Chris Fish
MERRITT ISLAND - A former Edgewood Junior/Senior High School drama teacher accused of having a three-year sexual relationship with a young girl, beginning when she was 15, is scheduled for his next appearance in court Aug. 30.
Dennis Turner, 56, who was arrested Tuesday, July 31 with 126 counts of sexual battery of a person younger than 18, classified as rape by the state of Florida, has a bond set at $4,410,000 and currently remains in Brevard County Jail.
The investigation regarding Mr. Turner, a Merritt Island resident, began nearly three months ago, said Lt. Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division. Mr. Turner resigned from Edgewood Junior/Senior High School before the end of the school year, citing "personal issues," after a chaperone reported inappropriate behavior between Mr. Turner and several students on a field trip to Tampa. Witnesses also reported that Mr. Turner brought a 9mm handgun along on the fieldtrip.
"The investigation stemmed from claims of inappropriate behavior between he and his students, including claims of him having girls in his room," Lt. Goodyear said. "He also had a firearm with him on the trip, and the kids knew he had one."
Once the investigation began, a teenage girl came forward, alleging she had a three-year sexual relationship with Mr. Turner that started when she was 15 and ended after she graduated from the Merritt Island school. The victim said the events occasionally occurred during school hours and on school property, according to police reports.
After several attempts to contact them, the administration at Edgewood was unavailable for comment.
Along with the victim's testimony, police discovered inappropriate emails between the victim and Mr. Turner, the reports showed.
Each of the 126 charges is a first-degree felony and punishable by 30 years in prison.
Lt. Goodyear said the division has received tips indicating the possibility of there being more victims related to Mr. Turner.
"We received some Crime Line information regarding possible other victims of his abuse, but we haven't discovered any evidence suggesting this," he said.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to contact the Brevard County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit at (321) 633-8419, or call in an anonymous tip to CrimeLine at (800) 423-8477.