News Releases are to be used for informational purposes only. Information provided should not be relied upon for any type of legal action.


For Immediate Release : Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Release Number: 24-98




The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has arrested a former Henderson Hammock Charter School teacher for inappropriate conduct against two students.

On May 6, 2024, detectives arrested Johnathan Sheppard, 38, for inappropriately touching a student and for sending inappropriate text messages during the 2023-2024 school year.

Sheppard was suspended on April 11, 2024, as a result of the investigation, and on April 19, his employment was terminated by the school.

"This man's despicable actions against a student, all while holding the trusted position of a teacher, are abhorrent," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "It's infuriating to know someone responsible for the education and well-being of students would prey upon our most vulnerable, our children."

Johnathan Sheppard is facing the following charges:

  • Authority Figure Soliciting or Engaging in a Romantic Relationship with a Student (x2)

  • Lewd or Lascivious Molestation (Defendant Over 18; Victim 12 - 15) (Authority Figure Over Student)

During the investigation, detectives discovered that the Hillsborough County Public School's Security Officer assigned to the charter school, Theresa Cruz, 48, had interfered with the school's initial investigation into the allegations by providing Sheppard with details.

"This individual was entrusted with the safety and security of the students, and she betrayed that trust," said Sheriff Chronister. "Her willingness to help this criminal means she will now face the serious consequences of her actions."

Theresa Cruz was arrested and charged with:

  • Tampering with A Witness (1st Degree Felony) (x2)

  • Obstruction (Resist Without Violence)

Detectives are asking if anyone believes they may have been a victim of Johnathan Sheppard; please call HCSO at 813-247-8200.

This is still an active investigation. The Public Affairs Office will release any update.

Additional Images