A judge set bail at $100,000 for Keith Gruber on sex offense and lewd behavior charges.
THE ACREAGE — An assistant Seminole Ridge High School football coach is accused of raping a 15-year-old student during school hours in the weight room.
Keith Gruber, 36, was arrested Monday afternoon after Palm Beach County School District police found him in the weight room with a rag in his hand, possibly cleaning up evidence from the Feb. 6 rape, detectives said. He faces sex-offense and lewd-behavior charges and was being held in the Palm Beach County Jail Tuesday afternoon in lieu of a $100,000 bond.
Circuit Judge Dina Keever-Agrama ordered that Gruber have no contact with Seminole Ridge High or anyone under the age of 18.
The student, who has since moved out of Palm Beach County, told school police that she had sex with a staff member, whom she knew only as “coach,” while she was supposed to be in class on the afternoon of Feb. 6.
Earlier that day she had mentioned she was interested in having sex with him, she told detectives. Before her third-period class, she saw Gruber in the hallway and he took her into the school’s weightlifting room, she said.
Surveillance-camera footage shows the two near the weight room at that time, according to an arrest report.
Records indicate that Gruber worked as temporary security at the school and has been employed by the district since May. According to Gruber’s online LinkedIn profile, he was the head junior varsity football coach at Seminole Ridge and coached the varsity team’s defense.
The 15-year-old told detectives the sexual encounter was brief because people walked by the room.
She said he had dripped body fluids onto a mat and wiped them off with his shoe before flipping over the mat.
Gruber then walked the student to class and wrote a pass, she said.
The age of consent in Florida is 18, according to Florida Statutes. People between the ages of 16 and 17 can give consent only to a partner up to the age of 23.
Detectives had the former student call Gruber on Monday. The student told Gruber she was pregnant and said she needed an abortion.
Gruber said he didn’t believe her and would need proof.
“So if I show you proof, you’ll give me money for an abortion?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he responded.
He repeatedly called the student repeatedly afterward, according to police records.
When detectives spoke with Gruber on Monday, he said the student forced herself on him. He admitted that they would find semen on the mat by the weight room door.
Seminole Ridge principal James Campbell alerted parents to Gruber’s arrest in an email Tuesday morning and said the coach would not be returning to school, adding that Gruber “risks losing the opportunity to ever obtain professional teaching credentials.”
“Educators who fail to properly steward the trust placed in them to maintain appropriate relationships with students disappoint the entire community, but particularly the administration and staff at our school, who have demonstrated over a decade of supportive and caring relationships with students,” Campbell said in the email.
He asked parents to encourage students to keep from discussing the matter, particularly on social media, in order to protect the former student’s identity.