A history teacher was arrested on Thursday after two female students from the Crossroads Christian School in Florida came forward alleging that they were sexually exploited by him.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd discussed the arrest of 39-year-old Derek Stribling at a Friday press conference. He cited the teacher’s pattern of behavior as an indicator of likelihood that there could be other victims out there, who haven’t yet come forward.
Stribling is a married man who also mentored students in his free time. Both of the victims involved were able to provide details of the suspect’s "anatomy" to police, according to the Sheriff's office.
Sheriff Judd emphasized how on the surface every believed this teacher came off as an upstanding guy. He says that’s a technique used by predators, so people in a community let their guard down.
Now, the principal of the school has since suspended Stribling after hearing what happened.
The first victim is an 18-year-old who got into trouble with her father. That’s how Stribling first got into contact with her. She had a "D" in Mr. Stribling’s class, and sex was introduced as the way she could bring it up.
"During the investigation, by the way, we learned that her D ended up an A. Isn’t that amazing?" remarked Sheriff Judd during the press conference.
Besides masturbation on a video call, Stribling tried to arrange for oral sex in a hotel parking lot. She declined him.
But at some point, the 18-year-old got in contact with a previous victim of Stribling’s.
This second victim was 14 years old in 2020 when she was sexually abused by the teacher. At the time, this girl was on his basketball team. She suffered a similar pattern of sexually explicit video chats and offers for oral sex.
But on one occasion Stribling "kissed and fondled" the second victim in the school’s gym equipment closet.
"We really really really fear there are other victims out there, that were like this [now] 16-year-old that were afraid, that didn’t report it," Sheriff Judd told the conference.
He publicly urged victims to not be embarrassed about what happened and come forward. Stribling faces charges of lewd/lascivious molestation of a minor, lewd/lascivious conduct, offenses against students by an authority figure, and transmitting material harmful to a minor.
This latest story comes along a national uptick in attention surrounding sexual abuses in the education system.