NewsPolk County


Lakeland teacher arrested for inappropriate sexual conduct with students

Derek Stribling mug PCSO.png
Posted at 12:53 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 12:53:22-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — The Polk County Sheriff's Office said a Lakeland teacher is facing charges for inappropriate sexual conduct with two students, and authorities believe there could be additional victims.

Derek Stribling, 39, was a teacher, dean of students and basketball coach at Crossroads Christian School, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said. Stribling was arrested on Thursday at his home.

The sheriff's office said Stribling is charged with lewd/lascivious molestation of a minor, lewd/lascivious conduct, offenses against students by an authority figure, and transmit material harmful to a minor.

Stribling is accused of sending explicit messages to the two female students, one who is over 18 and the other who was 14 at the time. He's also accused of video chatting with the victims while masturbating and attempting to get them to meet him for oral sex.

The sheriff's office said the adult victim told detectives Stribling asked for her phone number in February so he could check on her after she had an argument with her father. Authorities said Stribling told the victim she had a "D" in his class and said she could extra credit to help her grades.

The sheriff's office said after offering the extra credit, Stribling initiated a sexual conversation with the victim through FaceTime and texting. During the video chat, authorities said Stribling showed the victim that he was masturbating. He also tried to get the victim to meet him in a hotel parking lot for oral sex but she refused, authorities said.

The other victim told detectives of an incident that took place in 2020 when Stribling was her basketball coach. According to the sheriff's office, the victim said Stribling asked her to meet in the gym's equipment closet where he kissed and groped her over her clothing. She also said Stribling began to talk to her over Snapchat and texting.

Authorities said with the second victim Stribling also showed her over video chat that he was masturbating and tried multiple times to get her to meet him for oral sex but she refused.

"For a 39-year old married deviant to do this to two teens is horrible as it is, but when you add in that he's a teacher doing this to his students — it infuriates me. Most teachers do everything they can to protect their students, but this guy was the complete opposite," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "He preyed on them for his own sick desires, and he should never be allowed to be near children again."

Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference he believed there could be additional victims. Anyone with information is encouraged to reach out to the sheriff's office.

ABC Action News left a message with Crossroads Christian School for a statement on Stribling's arrest.