November 8, 2007

Ex-Bexley Teacher Arrested in Florida Sex Sting

By Jill Riepenhoff, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Nov. 8--A former Bexley drama teacher who resigned last year after accusations that he solicited a prostitute landed at a school in Florida.

Now, he faces charges there that he sought sex from a person he thought was a 15-year-old girl.

Jeffrey Scott Holsclaw, 49, who also taught in Westerville from 1983 to 2004, was arrested by Clew-iston police on Halloween. An officer posed as the teen he is accused of trying to meet.

He has since resigned from Clewiston Middle School, which is in southern Florida, on the shore of Lake Okeechobee, about 60 miles east of Fort Myers.

After his arrest, police searched his house and found "childlike items such as dolls, stuff(ed) animals, pictures of children, cartoons," police records show. Hols- claw lives alone.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday. His home and cell phones have been disconnected.

"It really concerns me that this teacher came from Ohio and gets a license within five weeks," said Gail Schultz, whose 13-year-old daughter had weekly drama lessons with Holsclaw in Florida. "How did this happen?"

The answer:

--Holsclaw resigned from the Bexley schools, where he had worked for two years, before the district could fire him.

He resigned May 31, 2006, "for personal reasons," seven days after he was arrested in Westerville and accused of twice bringing home a prostitute for sex. Bexley started the process to fire him for moral turpitude, Superintendent Michael Johnson said.

--The Ohio Department of Education investigated but did not reprimand Holsclaw. State officials refused to explain why.

In the past seven years, the department has punished nearly two dozen other teachers for soliciting prostitutes.

--The Florida school district that hired him never called Bexley for a reference.

If Hendry County school officials had called, "I would have told them the facts," Johnson said. "The facts are the facts."

--Florida state and local educators cleared Holsclaw to teach, despite knowing about his Ohio arrest from a background check.

Schultz said she now is crusading for national protections to stop teachers with questionable histories from moving between states.

"I want to try to change these laws," she said. "Maybe I can make a difference for children."

Holsclaw's case is not a one-time incident. A 10-month Dispatch investigation into Ohio's teacher-discipline system exposed loopholes that allow teachers with histories of misconduct to move freely between states.

The records of Holsclaw's arrest in Westerville have vanished, and police officials could not explain why. It's unclear what became of the soliciting charge.

A month after he resigned from Bexley schools, Florida gave Holsclaw a temporary license, which allows him to teach until 2009.

Last year, he taught drama at an elementary school. This year, he moved to the middle school.

On Halloween, an undercover officer connected online with Holsclaw through Craigslist, a social-networking site. It was 10:30 a.m. Holsclaw was at school.

The police report says that Hols- claw was looking for "GFE," code used by escort services to mean a "girlfriend experience" and that he wanted oral sex.

After sending nine e-mails to the "girl" that day, he offered her $150 for sex with a condom or $250 without protection.

They arranged to meet later that night at an apartment, where he was arrested.

He has been charged with three felonies relating to soliciting a child. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison on each count.

He still holds a valid Florida teaching license. His Ohio license expired in 2006.

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