MANATEE -- A Manatee School District employee who had a years-long sexual relationship with a student resigned last month in the midst of an investigation by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Laverna Williams, a former cafeteria manager at Bayshore High School, has been accused of impregnating a student at the high school. The same month he resigned his position at the school district, he married the former student, now 20.
According to a Manatee County sheriff's report, the relationship between Williams and the student began in the fall of 2010 when the student was 16 and Williams was 41.
The sheriff's office forwarded a recommendation to the State Attorney's Office with charges of sexual battery of a victim 17 years of age at an "unknown motel/hotel" at Interstate 75 and State Road 64 E.
Dave Bristow, spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said the investigation was turned over to the State Attorney's Office.
"It is at the State Attorney's Office now," Bristow said. "We are not sure when a determination will be made."
The mother reported her suspicions to the school dis
trict, but said nothing was done.
Stephen Valley, spokesperson for the Manatee County School District, said in an email Friday that Bayshore High principal David Underhill and school district staff will have no comment about Williams.
"The Sheriff's Office completed their investigation where it was determined that Mr. Williams had committed a 'second degree' felony," Valley said. "In the email The MCSO forwarded their report and recommendations to the State Attorney's office where it's currently under review."
Former school board attorney John Bowen, who has been retired from the school district since June 30, said he does not remember when or how the relationship between Williams and the student was brought to his attention.
Bowen asserts that the student was 18 when she and Williams were in a sexual relationship. Bowen also said she refused to talk about the allegations when interviewed by Debra Horne, the former investigator of the school district's office of professional standards.
Bowen believes Horne did everything she could to investigate Williams.
"When the alleged victim says she is not a victim and refuses to talk, there's not a whole lot more you can do," Bowen said.
Troy Pumphrey, the Manatee County School District's current investigator in the office of professional standards, declined comment.
Horne and her former superior, staff attorney Scott Martin, may be fired pending a School Board vote Monday in the investigation of Manatee High School football coach Rod Frazier.
Calls to Martin were not returned.
Horne deferred any comments to her attorney, Derek Byrd.
Byrd said that a few years ago, the student's mother reported to the school district that Williams was having a relationship with her daughter, a student at Bayshore.
"Mrs. Horne interviewed the quote-unquote victim, who denied any relationship," Byrd said. "Horne reported back to her superiors."
Byrd said that he is not certain if students was 18 years old or still an enrolled student, but he said the deciding factor is that she denied the relationship in her interview with Horne.
Byrd said he was present in Pumphrey's interview with Horne about the case. Byrd said Horne did not have personal recollection of the case other than her short interview with the student, in which she hung up.
"Mrs. Horne did exactly what her job is," Byrd said. "She is not a cop. She didn't have the authority to open investigations without direction. If someone is to blame, I don't know who it is, but it's not Debbie Horne."