By Francisco Alvarado
By Trevor Bach
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
Calvin Williams could have been the role model Love's friends crave. He grew up in Riviera determined to escape the ghetto. At Suncoast High, he joined the drama club and sang in the chorus. After graduation, he moved to New Mexico Highlands University to play basketball. He took a full course load, made the dean's list, and became president of the school's Black Student Union.
But he never fully escaped his ties to home. In 1989, weeks before his 20th birthday, Rachel Johnson, a woman he'd known for two years, gave birth to their son, Roderick. Suddenly, Williams needed money for food, diapers, and clothes.
He got a job as a manager at McDonald's to make ends meet and moved in with his mother while the baby lived with Johnson. His finances were so tight that in a letter to the court, Williams argued that paying $75 a week for child support was too much.
Eventually, Williams worked his way out of poverty. He got a job supervising juvenile delinquents at the Palm Beach Halfway House in Lantana, where his boss was full of praise. "He has the mind of a scholar, the heart of a social worker, and the voice of a coach/mentor," Grady Swindell wrote in a letter of recommendation for Williams.
As his son grew up, Williams became a loving father. "He molded me into the person he was," Roderick Johnson, now 21, says. "A hard worker, dedicated, a nice person... you know, caring, loving."
Williams took him on trips to places like North Carolina and Georgia to visit relatives, and whenever Johnson needed him, Williams was there. "He shows you love, support. That's just who he is."
While counseling kids and defusing their fights, Williams earned a bachelor's degree in social work from Florida Atlantic University. He then applied to substitute-teach in Palm Beach County schools and began working in crisis intervention, supervising kids with behavioral problems at Roosevelt Full Service Center in West Palm. In a county where, according to a recent independent study, fewer than a quarter of black men graduate high school, he was a gift: a role model who liked working with hard-to-reach kids. Principals were eager to hire him.
In 2003, Roosevelt Principal Cynthia Smith requested a waiver to hire Williams as a middle-school special ed teacher even though he didn't yet have the required teaching certificate. "Mr. Williams has been very successful in his first year of teaching here," Smith wrote. She praised his "knowledge of our students, and his demonstrated ability to work effectively with at-risk students."
Two years later, Williams earned the certificate he needed. But by then, his teaching career was marred by a disturbing footnote.
In May 2005, he was teaching at Palm Beach Lakes High when a male senior at the school accused Williams of coming on to him.
The student told a school detective that he and Williams had exchanged cell phone numbers and that Williams would sometimes call at night to talk about his personal life. Williams bragged about how many women he was involved with and called himself a "pimp daddy." One day, according to the police report, Williams told the student he wanted to give him $100 for getting good grades. Williams picked up the student at his house and took him to his apartment, saying he needed to finish cleaning the place. Once they arrived, the student sat down on a couch. Williams told him, "If you don't move, I'm going to lie on you."
The student moved to another couch. But Williams grabbed him in a headlock and began blowing in his ear. "You talk a lot of noise," Williams purred. Uncomfortable, the student announced he was ready to leave. Williams responded by showing his penis.
Upset and embarrassed, the student explained that he "didn't go that way." They finally left the apartment, and Williams drove to an ATM and retrieved the $100 he had promised. Before he drove the student home, Williams asked for a hug. "No," the student said.
A week later, Williams called the student to congratulate him for graduating from high school. "I owe you dinner as a gift," Williams texted the student.
Less than two weeks later, an adult called the school police department to say the student had confided in him about the incident. A detective interviewed the student, confirmed the text message, and launched an investigation. But it didn't go far.
In a meeting with school officials, Williams insisted he mentored many "needy" students and sometimes gave them lunch money. He gave this student money to help cover room and board for his first year of college, he said. Williams admitted that he briefly took the student to his apartment to grab his ATM card and gave him "advice about women." But he vehemently denied exposing himself.
In the end, the student declined to press charges. A school district investigative committee found the allegation of inappropriate sexual interaction unsubstantiated but suspended Williams for five days for acting unprofessionally and having an inappropriate relationship with a student. He was temporarily barred from subbing for the school district. But a year later, he was hired to teach special ed at L.C. Swain Middle School in Greenacres.