Rickards High School teacher put on administrative leave

Courtesy of Tallahassee Democrat

A Rickards High School math teacher is facing four counts of battery after four female students filed complaints last month. The students claimed that William M. Cullen inappropriately touched them while they received one-on-one help from him.

The Leon County Sheriff's Office reported that an investigation had been opened against Cullen on Jan. 21 after a student filed a report to Rickards High School principal Doug Cook.

The investigation resulted in four arrest warrants being issued for Cullen last week. Upon the warrants being issued, Cullen turned himself in to the Leon County Jail without any conflict, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

One student alleged that Cullen touched her thighs and buttocks area. During the investigation, Leon County school officials said that three other victims came forward saying they had also been inappropriately touched by Cullen.

Two of the victims who later came forward gave investigators reasons for why they were hesitant to report their allegations. One victim said they hadn't reported what happened to her because she feared it would ruin Cullen's reputation; another said she did not want to cause “a stir.”

“I heard there was a group of students who were mad at me and wanted to get me in trouble … I absolutely did not touch the girl's buttocks,” Cullen said during a follow-up interview with investigators.

Kaitlynn Moore, parent of a Rickards High School student, gave her opinion on the situation.

"As a parent, when you send your child to school in the morning, you feel like you are sending them to a safe environment. When you hear that a teacher has allegedly touched a student inappropriately you of course want a deep investigation into those allegations, so the necessary measures can be taken keep your child safe,” Moore said.

Cullen was not charged with sexual battery because there is no evidence Cullen touched the students. The victims are said to be between 17 and 18 years old.

Leon County Schools spokesman Chris Petley said that the district staff will recommend his termination.

"He's been placed on administrative leave during the investigation and the district will move forward on termination procedures," Petley said.

The investigation is ongoing.