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Florida principal resigns amid sex scandal; he's also the mayor

Steve Van Gorden WTSP

Steve Van Gorden is no longer principal of Zephyrhills High School in Florida; he resigned amid allegations he sexually harassed teachers.
WTSP

(CBS) - A suburban Florida mayor has resigned as a high school principal after he allegedly harassed female staff members at the school, some of whom reportedly received offers of promotions in exchange for sex, CBS affiliate WTSP reports.

Steve Van Gorden, 37, resigned from Zephyrhills High School last week after officials collected more than 300 pages of emails, text messages and Facebook comments with female subordinates over a three-year period.

"There's just no other way to say it other than that I did not make good decisions when interacting with female staff," Van Gorden said, according to WTSP.  "It's horrible. It's just horrible and I feel so sorry."

According to some reports, Van Gorden sought sexual favors, which he referred to sometimes as "stress relief," and veiled promises of career advancement.

"I just want to say to those that were impacted, I'm really, really sorry and I hope at one point in time they can forgive my mistake," WTSP quoted Van Gorden as saying.

The Pasco School Board accepted Van Gorden's resignation unanimously following their investigation of the accusations.

The single father of two acknowledged that his behavior was inappropriate and said he never fully addressed his divorce when he and his wife separated four years ago. Van Gorden said the hardest part now was trying to explain his situation to his children.

"For me to have those conversations - they were gut-wrenching," he said.

Van Gorden still retains his position as mayor of Zephyrhills on Florida's central gulf coast, and does not believe his resignation as principal should influence his political position.

But some residents feel differently.

"Who's to say if his judgment in that area, which is such a sensitive area is so poor, how can you trust him to make any good decisions?" said Marcia Johnson, a Zephyrhills resident.

  • Crimesider Staff

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