Instructor accused of sex abuse

Published: Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 7:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 7:27 p.m.

SARASOTA A military instructor who used to be a volunteer with the Junior ROTC program at Gainesville High School has been accused of molesting a teenage student more than 10 times in his office at Sarasota High School, according to police.

"This is a complete shock,'' said Doug Smith of the JROTC program at GHS, where Demetrius Busby was a volunteer until 2004.

At Sarasota High, Busby was head of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program since August 2006, leading dozens of students who wanted a career in the military.

The alleged sexual abuse of the cadet started in 2006, when the teenager was a freshman, and continued over two school years, according to arrest records.

It stopped months ago, police said.

One day this week, Busby saw the teenager in the administration office. He asked the boy if anything was wrong, and the teenager said that he had told police about their relationship, the arrest reports said.

Busby bolted, according to detectives, leaving behind a half-eaten lunch as he ran from campus.

Police say Busby was gone for at least a day, until detectives caught up with him at a Sarasota hotel.

He was arrested, questioned by police on Friday morning and booked in the afternoon on three felony charges two counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child and one count of showing obscene material to a minor.

In addition to the alleged abuse on campus, police say Busby, 45, also had sex with the boy at his home, and once showed him pornography on a laptop computer.

Busby was a decorated Army reservist who fought in the first Gulf War and was, by all accounts, the right kind of man to teach young cadets.

After a 24-year career in the Army, which took Busby from his home in New York to the Persian Gulf and to an assignment as a recruiter in New Jersey and Florida, Busby headed to Sarasota High.

He led the JROTC program there, in charge of nearly 100 young students including the teenager who came forward Wednesday.

Busby enlisted in 1982, served as an infantryman in the Gulf War and earned an Army Commendation Medal before he retired from the Army in 2006, military records show. He was active in recruiting, and worked closely with other Florida high schools over the past two years.

JROTC programs operate at thousands of schools throughout the country, and are taught by ex-military personnel who train young people for a career in the service. The programs are funded by both the military and the local school district.

In commendation letters to the Sarasota County School District, co-workers and military colleagues described Busby as ''level-headed,'' ''dedicated'' and ''passionate.''

In Boca Raton, Busby was instrumental in establishing a Navy JROTC program in the mid-1990s. Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Edwin Morales said that Busby was ''top-notch'' in gaining the trust of both students and instructors, and was considered a good friend to most of the students in the program.

But when he left Boca Raton, he ''dropped off the face of the map,'' Morales said. Busby did not call, did not return e-mails and seemed to have left many of his friends behind.

''It truly is a major loss and a major disappointment,'' Morales said.

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