Judge sentences ex-Tampa Day School principal to 10 years for sex assault

Tampa Bay Times

Anna M. Phillips, Times Staff Writer

TAMPA — James J. Larkin, a former Tampa Day School principal, was sentenced Thursday to a 10-year prison term as part of a plea deal in which he admitted to sexually abusing two adolescent boys.

For more than 30 years, Larkin’s reputation was that of a beloved private school leader. From 1978 to 2009, he was headmaster at St. John Greek Orthodox Day School in South Tampa, a position he left to helm the Tampa Day School. The school fired him last year after a 14-year-old boy, a student at Tampa Day, accused Larkin, 64, of molesting him one night while the principal was acting as a stand-in babysitter.

The publicity surrounding that allegation prompted an adult man in his mid-40s to contact law enforcement about a similar incident he said occurred when he was 10 years old.

Although Larkin’s attorney initially vowed to fight the charges against his client, the former principal pleaded guilty to one count of lewd molestation and one count of attempted sexual battery.

As part of the agreement reached with Hillsborough prosecutors, after he has completed his prison sentence — at which point, he will likely be in his mid-70s — Larkin will face 10 years of probation and will spend the rest of his life as a registered sex offender. Under Florida law, he will not be allowed live within 1,000 feet of a school, child care facility or other places where children congregate.

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