By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
The teacher never suspected Miller might be doing the same thing with a 14-year-old girl.
"The guy I knew had a great relationship with the kids personally," the teacher said in a sworn interview with Mintus. "You know, I never would have thought that it would have gone anywhere else, if it has."
Another teacher, whose name was withheld from police reports, said she had sex with Miller in the chorus room "on a handful of occasions." At first, the teacher told Mintus that Miller forced himself on her. But the detective investigated and concluded that their relationship was consensual.
Yet another teacher told Mintus that "it had been rumored and fairly well-discussed amongst the staff" that Miller had threesomes that sometimes involved teachers.
Perhaps the most telling incident came in September 2007, when Franklin King, the former Watkins band booster president, was arrested for molesting a 15-year-old girl over a period of several years. Miller and King, 42, were best friends. They took the band kids on field trips and helped each other maintain order at practices and performances. King served as booster president for two years, even though his son graduated after the first year. "Miller and King were together all the time," says the former band parent. "They were thick as thieves."
King, who had his own bathtub and tile refinishing business, spent long afternoons and evenings at Watkins and persuaded local businesses to help pay for uniforms and other needs. His wife, Cindi, who worked as a school secretary, also volunteered to help with the drill team at Watkins.
But the former band parent says she had a feeling that something wasn't quite right between Frank King and the students. As she watched King and Miller deal with the inevitable school-girl crushes, the men seemed to enjoy the attention.
"There were a lot of girls that were always hugging on him and hanging on him," she says of King. "It just felt really, really creepy to watch the two of them — primarily Mr. King — but the two of them, with these young girls."
Once, the former band parent says, King showed up at a practice with a young girl — the mother doesn't know if she was a Watkins student or not — and then disappeared with her. When they returned about half an hour later, King was wearing different clothing, and the girl was drinking a Slurpee.
Meanwhile, Miller once posed for a band picture by lying across the students' laps.
The girl who accused King of molestation was not a Watkins band student, but her father worked for King. Beginning when she was 11, the girl told Palm Beach County sheriff's detectives, King would repeatedly fondle her, expose himself to her, and force himself on her. In January 2004, she was staying at King's house while her father was out of town — it's unclear how old she was at the time — and awoke to find King pulling her pants down. He started having oral sex with her, but she got angry and stopped him, according to the sheriff's report.
Finally, in August 2007, the girl confronted King in a phone call that was recorded by sheriff's deputies. She seemed worried that her father would find out what had been happening for years.
"If he [her father] says something, you just got to deny it," King said. "We've never done anything."
"We have done something. I've been keeping [it] in for about five years," she said. "How come you've done it? It's bothering me."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have. Even the things I did weren't right," King said.
"It's bothered me a lot. I just want to know why you touched me on my crotch and boobs," the girl persisted.
"I don't know," King said.
King was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation, sexual activity with a child, and transmission of harmful material to a minor. He initially confessed to the crimes, according to the sheriff's report, but has since pleaded not guilty. He's in Palm Beach County Jail awaiting trial.
Yet Miller stood by his friend. He took off work to speak on King's behalf at a bond hearing in 2007 and wrote a letter to the Palm Beach County court defending him.
King was "instrumental in the success of our program," Miller wrote. "He has shown himself to be a good father, husband and friend with great morals and respect for all those with whom he comes into contact. He has always exhibited appropriate behavior and a respectful demeanor around the 400-plus students in the band and chorus.
"It is my sincere belief that he is not a threat to this community," Miller added.
Less than two years later, Miller and King would land in the same jail cell.
On April 13, 2009, a 16-year-old girl broke down crying on a Watkins school bus. She told the driver, a woman, that Miller had been mistreating her and other female students.
The eighth-grade student was attracted to girls, she later told Detective Mintus, and had no interest in Miller. Yet he kept hitting on her, praising her looks and touching her butt. "You trust him so much, you don't think he will do you like that," she told Mintus.