Less than two years before band teacher Heath Miller was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting four students at H.L. Watkins Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, his best friend and fellow band supporter was arrested for allegedly molesting a teenage girl.
Franklin King, 42, was president of the band booster committee at Watkins for two years. Miller met him while King was volunteering his time to help the band
grow, taking the kids on field trips and helping out at practices.
In a November 2007 letter to a Palm Beach County judge, Miller wrote that King was "instrumental in the success of our program," and "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."
Yet in September 2007, Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies arrested King for molesting a 15-year-old girl over a period of several years. She and her father were living in a homeless shelter when she first met King. The girl's dad began working for King doing home renovations, and the two men became close friends.
Over the years, the girl told sheriff's detectives, King would repeatedly fondle her, expose himself to her, and force himself on her.
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 happened.
"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 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 and I apologized," 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 initially confessed to the crimes, according to the sheriff's report, but has since pleaded not guilty. He's still awaiting trial.
Miller wrote a letter to the court asking the judge to consider King's "service to the community, his family, my program, and his church as a basis for evaluating his legal situation."
"It is my sincere belief that he is not a threat to this community," Miller wrote.