Herron Gaston DIV ’13, whom U.S. Marshals arrested in New Haven Thursday for sexual battery, remains in Connecticut while police work to extradite him to Florida.
Christopher Daniel, spokesman for the police department at the University of South Florida — where Gaston was a mentor in a summer program and allegedly committed battery against a 17-year-old boy — said Gaston will be in Florida by the end of the week if he chooses not to oppose extradition. Gaston has the option to fight extradition, but Daniels said he “does not foresee complications in that area.” Meanwhile, Gaston’s friends and family said they were surprised and upset by the news of his arrest.
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In Florida, police detectives are continuing their investigation and encouraging those with information regarding the case to speak to the police, Daniel said.
“We are just hoping we can get this resolved, get him back to Florida, and let the criminal process take its course,” he said.
The four counts of sexual battery involve a boy whom Gaston mentored through Upward Bound, a federally funded program that helps low-income high school students prepare for college, at the University of Southern Florida.
The charge of sexual battery encompasses various kinds of unlawful sexual activity, including sex between a minor and his or her coach, teacher or mentor. Battery differs from harassment in that it is not necessarily unwelcome, and from assault in that it does not necessarily imply the use of force.
Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge said in a Friday statement that he was “deeply distressed” by the news of Gaston’s arrest, adding that his thoughts and prayers are with those involved.
“The Divinity School is a tight-knit and caring community, and so this affects each and every one of us,” he said. “We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation that will result in a full measure of justice under very difficult circumstances.”
At the Divinity School, Gaston is studying to be ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Ten Divinity School students interviewed said they were not aware of his arrest.
On his Facebook profile, Gaston describes himself as a “very genuine person” who aims to treat and judge people fairly. Among his interests, he listed “singing” and “building a closer relationship with God.”
Ike Jasper, Gaston’s cousin, said he found the news “very hard to swallow,” adding that he was surprised by the event.
“Herron is a very talented individual, and he is on his way to being great,” Jasper said. “The only thing running through my mind is why someone so established would do something to risk it all.”
Mardy Price, Gaston’s childhood friend, described Gaston as a leader who would fight this charge.
“He had never been in trouble with the law or with anyone,” he said. “This is just some kind of misunderstanding… [H]e’s the kind of person no one can keep down.”
Gaston worked as a Gubernatorial Fellow for the Florida state government, a fellowship which is described on its website as only for “the most exceptional Florida undergraduate and graduate students.”
This year, there are 13 fellows.
Correction: November 9, 2010
The second paragraph of the article “Yalie faces extradition” indirectly implicated University of Florida Police Department spokesman Christopher Daniels with the charges of sexual battery raised against Herron Gaston DIV ’13.