William Scott was arrested Friday, more than a week after a 15-year-old girl was reported to have had sex with multiple boys in a school bathroom.
Scott was charged with cruelty to child, for allowing a child to engage in a sex act, and possession of obscene material, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office says.
“While it is regrettable that this incident occurred in the first place, we are always committed to holding everyone responsible for their actions,” Sheriff Mike Scott, no relation, said in a statement.
Both charges are felonies. No other students have been arrested. It is not yet known if other arrests could be made.
“We are aware that an arrest was made today concerning the incident at SFMHS,” district spokeswoman Jennifer DeShazo told the newspaper. “Today’s events are not a reflection of the football team in any way and should not be portrayed as such.”
The girl’s mother and supporters have said that the girl was the victim of human trafficking when she was 13 and is still recovering from the trauma.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Several Other Students Were Disciplined After Video of the Incident Was Posted Online & Seen by Thousands on Social Media
The incident happened after school in a bathroom at South Fort Myers High School on May 17. The investigation into the incident began the next day, and at first, police said they were not going to be involved because the girl’s mother did not want to press charges. After it was revealed video from the incident had been recorded, they began to investigate.
Surveillance video from a hallway showed 25 boys entering the bathroom while the girl was inside, and 16 students, including several football players, were disciplined, authorities said.
Principal Melissa Layner told the News-Press she spoke with the girl, who “confirmed that she had sex with a number of willing males.”
Authorities did not say how many of the boys had sex with the girl.
One of the videos was posted to Snapchat, and a saved version eventually leaked to social media.
“I’ve just heard that they were all filming it and I just think it’s really wrong. That shouldn’t have happened. They locked themselves into the bathroom,” Lisa Purnell, who was picking up a student at the school, told WBBH-TV.
The graphic video, showing the girl engaging in multiple sex acts with several boys, made its way to Twitter, where it was shared by thousands, including one account with 149,000 followers, @lil_boosie4, which has since been suspended by Twitter.
“She said mom this girl head was in the toilet bowl and she looked like she was dying and there were a whole bunch of guys in there taking turns with her. It is child porn and it is happening right here in front of our face in front of our children’s face,” a mother, who asked not to be identified, told WINK-TV.
The girl’s mother and supporters say she was the victim of human trafficking when she was 13, WBBH-TV reports.
“I had heard about a lot about the incident through the news. I heard it and thought there’re some red flags,” said Megan Estrem, who runs a group, Be the Light, that provides support for human trafficking victims. She spoke on the mother’s behalf in an interview with WBBH. “What’s upsetting about this is this behavior is not uncommon for human trafficking victims.
Estrem said the girl was brought to her organization by her mother for help recovering from the trauma of being a human trafficking victim. She had been held captive by a trafficker for nearly two years and recently spent eight months in treatment. The girl went to the bathroom to meet a crush.
“She was not equipped to make a stable, rational decision in that situation,” said Estrem.
You can read more about the incident at the link below:
2. Scott, Who Is the Father of a Young Son, Said on Facebook That the Cops Had Taken His Phone After the Incident
Details about the charges against Scott have not yet been made public. The 16-year-old is also a newcomer to South Fort Myers High School, having been previously enrolled at Bishop Verot High School. According to his Facebook page, he is the father of a young son. He also recently lost his own father to AIDS, WZVN-TV reports.
William Scott posted on Facebook on May 18, one day after the incident, saying police had seized his phone. You can see the post below:
Scott also made a Facebook post on May 17, at 9 a.m., just hours before the bathroom incident, writing about his hopes for a relationship:
He posted again on May 21, with a different attitude:
Scott could not be reached for comment and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney.
A friend, Jamierra, told WZVN, “I feel like he should not have been arrested for it, and I feel like they should’ve arrested everybody if they were going to arrest one person because it wasn’t just him. Everybody who got disciplined should be charged as well because they all had something to do with it.”
3. He Is One of the Top High School Running Backs in the State & Received a Recruiting Letter From Florida State
William Scott is one of the top high school running backs in Florida. He played for two seasons at Bishop Verot High School, a Catholic school in Fort Myers before transferring to South Fort Myers after the 2015 season.
He was named to the Florida Class 4A all-state team in January, according to the News-Press.
He ran for 1,468 yars and 17 touchdowns in eight games, helping lead Bishop Verot to a state playoff berth. He only played in eight games because of a suspension, WZVN-TV reports. It’s not known why he was suspended.
Scott, a member of the class of 2018, was being recruited by Florida State University, one of the nation’s top football programs, according to a photo of a letter sent to him that he posted to Facebook:
His youth football coach, Eric Rivera, told the News-Press, “He was always a good athlete, he was very coachable. I’ve been keeping up with this story and when I heard this and I heard he was being involved, I was surprised. Coming up he was always a good kid in our organization.”
Rivera added, “I hate to see this happen not just to him, all of the other kids involved, but especially the girl that is part of this story. I hope she comes out of it OK.”
4. He Played in His School’s Spring Football Game Days After the Incident & His Coached Winked to a Reporter When Asked About It
William Scott played in South Fort Myers High School’s spring football game against Charlotte on May 20, three days after the incident and after the investigation had already begun, the Naples Daily News reports.
Dana Caldwell of the Naples Daily News claimed in his story about the game that the speculation that football players were involved in the bathroom incident was “dead wrong.” He also said Head Coach Anthony Dixon winked when asked about it:
Although there have been reports of suspensions, apparently none of them are players — at least evidenced by the fact that everybody on the varsity roster was dressed for Friday night’s spring game against Charlotte that was delayed by lightning for about 45 minutes.
Like everyone else employed at the school, second-year Fort Myers coach Anthony Dixon wouldn’t comment on the situation, but when a reporter pointed out all his players were dressed, he grinned and winked. That said a lot.
The school has not yet commented about the wink or about why he played in the game.
Some in the community have questioned the way the case was handled by the district.
“That is unbelievable. I can’t believe it. It’s terrible,” parent Kevin Ware told WBBH-TV. “We need to know what was going on during school? Why are the kids out? Were they supposed to be in class? Where were the teachers? A thorough investigation needs to be done.”
After the original incident, South Fort Myers Principal Melissa Layner sent a letter to parents that said:
Our school community has nearly 2,000 students. As part of their high school journey, our students will have the opportunity to experience great personal successes and they will also have experiences where they will learn from mistakes.
The incident this week should not be a reflection on our combined efforts, administration, students, and teachers , to keep our building and students secure and safe. Providing our students cooperate with the expectations articulated to them each day, our school is a safe place for student learning and after school activities.
Lee County Superintendent of Schools Greg Adkins sent a letter to parents, asking for the community to move on without judgement. The letter was sent before Scott was arrested. You can read the full letter below:
Layner and Adkins haven’t commented since Scott’s arrest.
5. He Was Released on Bail & Posted on Facebook ‘God Bless Me Wit the Ability So No Man Can Take It
William Scott was booked at a juvenile facility in Lee County and released on bail.
After being released, Scott posted on Facebook:
Scott appeared in court for the first time Saturday morning and entered a not guilty plea, WBBH-TV reports.
The judge ordered Scott to stay at home for the next 21 days and barred him from having any contact with the victim. He is also not allowed to return to South Fort Myers High School during that period and cannot be in contact with any minors under the age of 15. The judge also ordered he not use any electronic devices unless it is for school purposes, the news station reports.
He is due back in court June 13 for his arraignment.
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