Briefly: Gaston DIV ’13 leaves Tampa jail

Herron Gaston DIV ’13, the student arrested earlier this month on four counts of sexual battery, was released from a Florida jail last Wednesday on a $30,000 bond.

Gaston, who was arrested in Connecticut by U.S. Marshals for charges involving a 17-year-old boy in a University of Southern Florida mentorship program, was extradited to Florida and transferred Tuesday to Hillsborough County Jail in Tampa. Christopher Daniel, spokesman for the police department at the University of South Florida, said that Gaston was originally held without bond, but was released on bond Wednesday after he appeared before a judge.

Daniel said USF police do not yet know if Gaston has pleaded guilty or not guilty. He added that Gaston did not contest his extradition to Florida this month.

“We’re pleased that the extradition went through without complications, and we appreciate the help of everyone in the U.S. Marshal service and in New Haven who helped with the case,” he said. “We hope that from this point forward, the process of trial goes just as smoothly and that everyone’s rights are protected in the process.”

Gaston is accused of committing sexual battery against a boy he mentored at Upward Bound, a USF program that helps prepare low-income high school students for college.

In an e-mail to the News earlier this month, Gaston’s cousin Ike Jasper said he was surprised to hear of Gaston’s arrest. He described Gaston as a “very talented individual … on his way to being great.”

Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge said Gaston’s arrest affects everyone in the school’s “tight-knit and caring community” in a statement released on the Divinity School website earlier this month.

“We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation that will result in a full measure of justice under very difficult circumstances,” he added. “As always in our legal system, the accused student is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Gaston was studying to be ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church at the Divinity School.

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