High school football coach accused of soliciting student for sex - WSMV News 4

Nashville high school football coach accused of soliciting student for sex

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Leon W. Garlington, 25, is being held on $100,000 bond. (Source: Metro Nashville PD) Leon W. Garlington, 25, is being held on $100,000 bond. (Source: Metro Nashville PD)
Garlington played football at TSU. (Source: TSU website) Garlington played football at TSU. (Source: TSU website)
A screenshot of the coach's Instagram account. (WSMV) A screenshot of the coach's Instagram account. (WSMV)
Garlington sent this tweet on Wednesday afternoon. (WSMV) Garlington sent this tweet on Wednesday afternoon. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A former Nashville high school football coach has been arrested for allegedly trying to have sex with a female student.

Leon W. Garlington, 25, was fired from his teaching and coaching role at RePublic High School, which is a charter school in north Nashville.

The 17-year-old victim told police she received a direct message on Instagram on Saturday from Garlington asking her when her birthday was.

According to the arrest report, Garlington "expressed disappointment that it was almost a year away."

Police said Garlington then asked the teen if she would like to do anything with him "like sex" and asked if she had been with an adult before.

A parent sent only News 4 the screenshots of the group message Garlington sent to his players.

It said in part “I made a mistake...and I wasn’t taking care of my business. It’s a very petty situation but I could have kept it from happening.”

Trey Perry, Mount Juliet head football coach and vice president of the Tennessee Football Coaches Association, said there’s a trust between coaches and students, and that was broken.

“I think it’s probably extremely difficult and it’s probably a conversation that parents are going to have to have with kids. Hopefully, there is growth from that part of it and you learn from it,” said Perry. 

“If you’re going to be good at something you’ve got to spend time doing it, and a lot of times those relationships are fostered from that. So there is a connection there.” 

According to the arrest report, Garlington sent his phone number to the teen and continued the conversation via text message.

Garlington allegedly offered to reimburse the victim for gas if she drove over to his apartment. The teen reportedly lied to Garlington that she was with a friend and could not come over.

According to the affidavit, after the teen did not respond for several hours, Garlington texted her on Sunday and said, "My bad about all this I shouldn't have ever messaged you. Let's just act like none of this was ever talked about. See you at school tomorrow!"

When interviewed by police, Garlington initially said the Instagram messages were sent by his brother. According to the affidavit, he did eventually admit to sending the text messages and allegedly said the intent was to have the girl come to his apartment and have sex. Police said Garlington went on to say that if the teen had come over, he would not have had sex with her.

According to the arrest report, Garlington told police that "he knew it was wrong, and he was weak."

Garlington played football at Brentwood Academy and Tennessee State University. He began coaching at RePublic High School in 2017 after serving as an assistant coach at Brentwood Academy.

Garlington, of Hendersonville, is charged with solicitation of a minor - statutory rape. He was arrested Wednesday night and is being held on $100,000 bond.

Abigail Rockey, director of network operations at RePublic Schools, issued this statement:

Immediately upon being informed that a faculty member sent inappropriate electronic messages to an underage student, we took strong and swift action.

We addressed the incident with the student and their family. We reported the incident to Child Protective Services and the Metro Nashville Police Department. We confronted the faculty member and immediately terminated him for cause. We will continue to cooperate fully with local law enforcement on any further investigation.

This alleged behavior is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our students and faculty members. We will not tolerate anyone being subjected to sexual misconduct, abuse, or harassment. We will always act urgently on any concern.

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