Bonds totaling $150,000 were set for a substitute teacher for the Manatee County School District charged with molesting three girls.
Brad Bellingar, 29, of Ellenton, was arrested Wednesday and charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child 12 years old or younger by an adult 18 years or older.
All three victims were known to Bellinger from outside of school. Detectives say they do not know of any other victims at this time but cannot rule out the potential for more.
Anyone with any information about the case can call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 941-747- 3011, ext. 1906.
Bellingar, who has since been removed from the school district’s list of substitute teachers, last taught at a school on Nov. 18.
On Thursday afternoon, Bellingar stood quietly as he appeared before Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan for his initial hearing. Dunnigan set bonds totaling $150,000.
Assistant State Attorney Brian Chambers had asked that Bellingar be held without bond because he felt the case had met the standards, known as the Arthur rule, that were required in a 1980 Florida Supreme Court ruling that allows for a defendant to be held in pretrial detention without bond if “the proof of guilt is evident and the presumption of guilt is great.”
The Public Defender’s Office objected, saying that Bellingar should be entitled to a bond because of his lack of criminal history and because he did not live with the children.
Dunnigan did not feel she could make a determination based on only the probable cause affidavit, she said, and told the prosecutor that he would have to request a separate hearing to argue pretrial detention based on the Arthur rule.
Bellingar said he could not afford the $150,000 bond, and the Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent him.
He was ordered to have no contact with any of the three victims of the parents of the victims.