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Live: Former Jacksonville teacher Jeffrey Clayton being sentenced

Live: Former Jacksonville teacher Jeffrey Clayton being sentenced

  • PublishedJune 14, 2024

Jeffrey Clayton, 66, faces a prison sentence up to 40 years. He pleaded guilty to four charges in April related to him touching and kissing a 16-year-old student.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Former Douglas Anderson School of the Arts teacher Jeffrey Clayton is set to be sentenced Friday in Duval County court after pleading guilty in April to four charges related to touching and kissing a teenage student.

Clayton, 66, pleaded guilty to charges of indecent, lewd, or lascivious touching of certain minors, unlawful use of a two-way communications device and two counts of offenses against students by authority figures. He faces a prison sentence up to 40 years.

Clayton was arrested in March 2023 after the teen showed the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office screenshots of around 1,700 texts between the two.

The texts between the two range from conversations about movies to Clayton telling the teen he loved her. In one message released by investigators, Clayton requested the student send photos of her nails and feet after a trip to the salon. In another, Clayton reminds her to continue deleting their text thread.

On March 17, 2023, the student’s father dropped her off at the school, located in Jacksonville’s Spring Park area, for a one-on-one voice lesson with Clayton, his arrest warrant states. Clayton was chairman of the school’s vocal department.

The student sat on a couch in Clayton’s office while he sat in a chair next to her. Clayton began talking about his “intoxicating” feelings for the student before he began rubbing her thighs, according to the warrant.

Clayton reportedly then began kissing the student, first with his mouth closed, then escalated to kissing her with his mouth open, putting his tongue in her mouth, the warrant states. 

With about 10 minutes remained in the singing lesson, the warrant says Clayton stood up and began teaching, as the student’s parent later picked her up and took her home.

Investigators worked with the student to record a phone call between herself and Clayton. The call lasted around 30 minutes and was recorded. 

“(The victim) is a very effervescent girl who just is different,” Clayton told detectives a day after the incident in a recorded interview with them. “She’s definitely a different kind of sort than I’ve had that I’ve taught.”

Clayton’s termination letter from Duval County Public Schools identifies four earlier sustained complaints made against him – in January 2006, March 2008, November 2016 and 2021; two of the complaints included inappropriate physical conduct with a student.

What’s expected to happen in court?

Three former Douglas Anderson students and the teen are expected to testify Friday to deliver “victim impact statements.” It should be noted that there are no charges related to Clayton’s interactions with the three former students. In reference to these witnesses, the memorandum says Clayton “maintains his adamant denial of any criminal actions relating to them.” 

A memorandum filed by Clayton’s attorney ahead of the sentencing outlines arguments in his defense, which may feature in court Friday.

The document lists students who he says Clayton helped to achieve their goals and become successful. 

This includes students described as gaining confidence after learning from Clayton, receiving scholarships, attending college for music and having careers related to music after graduating from DA.

Clayton’s attorney also describes Clayton being invited to sing at one student’s wedding under this section of the memorandum.

One section argues that Clayton’s relationship with the student was not a “traditional ‘grooming’ type relationship where the teacher exerts control over, forces, or coerces the student into ultimately performing sexual acts.” 

It also says that Clayton routinely spoke with students after hours, and there was not a “single other inappropriate communication” between him and students found on his phone.

The document details Clayton’s personnel file, describing both disciplinary actions and positive comments. 

Clayton’s attorney also lists other Florida cases which he says should be considered in Clayton’s sentencing. “Mr. Clayton would submit that ensuring that defendants with a lack of any prior criminal history who have been found guilty of objectively more egregious conduct than Mr. Clayton’s in this case in the vast majority of the below cases receive fair and sentences.” 

One section talks about teachers who unlike Clayton were charged with having “sexual intercourse” with students, listing their offenses and subsequent sentences.

The next talks about teachers who, like Clayton, were charged with kissing a student. 

Clayton’s attorney has requested a sentence of 33.6 months in a Florida State prison. 

RELATED: No, former Douglas Anderson teacher Jeffrey Clayton will not be collecting pension if found guilty of lewd conduct charge

RELATED: Former students, colleagues react to Jeffrey Clayton pleading guilty to sex crimes with students

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