‘A long time coming:’ Former students react to sentencing of former DA teacher Jeffrey Clayton

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A former music teacher at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts was sentenced to 10 years in prison, today. This was after Jeffrey Clayton pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct with a minor.

Friday’s court hearing was difficult for many, especially for the girls who testified on the witness stand. Former students and a school board member said this was an emotional day, but they are relieved to get some closure.

Clayton walked away in handcuffs to face a 10-year prison sentence followed by 3 years of probation.


When delivering Clayton’s sentence, the judge said, “You should have known better, you were the adult here.”

“It has been a long time in the coming, for sure,” said witness J.C.

Clayton was the former vocal chair at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. He was arrested last year and pleaded guilty to sex crimes involving a 16-year-old student a couple of months ago. That student just graduated and spoke in court Friday.

Another recent graduate identified as J.C. also testified against Clayton as a witness.

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“I am just so happy that we’re able to finally put it mostly to rest, and that he is somewhere where we know he cannot hurt anyone else,” J.C. said.

Clayton apologized in court before new evidence in the case was heard.

The prosecutors shared a recorded phone call between Clayton and the 16-year-old victim. The call referenced going further than kissing. And, the judge called the interaction “creepy.”

“It isn’t only creepy, it was disgusting,” former DA student Shyla Jenkins said.

Jenkins graduated from Douglas Anderson in 2002, and she says the most shocking thing to learn was how long this had been going on.

“I started at DA before Clayton was there – he came my junior,” Jenkins said. “And what those victims got up there and said was exact behavior that started with us… So many of those girls could have been saved, and that was emotional.”

School board member Dr. Lori Hershey also reacted to his sentence.

“It was an emotional day in the courtroom,” Dr. Hershey said. “But we have a responsibility to keep students safe and I applaud the courage of the women who spoke up.”

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Dr. Hershey said the district is working to make things better.

“I’m confident with the legal counsel that we have and that it will improve,” Dr. Hershey said.

J.C. said she’s happy to be helping other girls in the future.

As for Clayton, he will also have to follow sexual offender conditions related to not being able to interact with children.

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