A substitute teacher who last worked at a Manatee County elementary school less than two weeks ago has been charged with molesting three girls he knew from outside of school, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
Brad Bellingar, 29, of Ellenton, was arrested Wednesday and charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation, according to an arrest report. Bellingar had worked as a Manatee substitute teacher since November 2011, according to district officials.
Bellingar knew his female victims — ages 10, 12 and 13 — from outside of his listed occupation of substitute teacher. The abuse had been going on for years, the girls told detectives.
The investigation began Monday after the victims went to the Child Protection Investigative Division of the sheriff’s office to report the abuse.
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Detectives only know of the three victims, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow, but the potential for additional victims cannot be ruled out.
Manatee County Schools General Counsel Mitchell Teitelbaum said he confirmed with investigators that the charges filed against Bellingar did not involve his role as a teacher.
In a statement, Teitelbaum wrote, “The School District on Wednesday was alerted of the arrest of substitute teacher Brad Bellingar. Based upon this notification and the allegations against him, the School District followed all protocols and procedures that protect the safety of our students. The employee was immediately removed as a substitute teacher and any contact with students.”
Anyone with any information about Bellingar or the case can call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 941-747- 3011, ext. 1906.
When Bellingar was confronted initially about the allegations, he denied them, but then became silent when he was told that more than one victim had come forward with allegations, Detective Steven Luke wrote in the arrest report.
When asked if they were lying, his response was, “I don’t know what they’re saying.”
School district officials said there had never been any complaints about Bellingar during his time as a substitute teacher with the district. They did not say where Bellingar had last worked.