Top Florida faith adviser dismissed after sexual assault history revealed

Ron DeSantis
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Buchanan)

A member of the Florida Governor’s Faith and Community-Based Initiative was recently dismissed from his role as a deacon of Clearwater’s Calvary Church after it was revealed he had a history of sexual misconduct when he was a teacher.

Rev. Willy Rice told his congregation in a video that the deacon was stepping down over a past that involved “sexual sin that could also be described as abusive,” Religion News Service reports.

“It did not involve criminal charges, and he has never been identified by law as a sexual offender,” Rice also said.

“Religion News Service has confirmed that the former deacon is Jeff Ford, the executive director of Man Up and Go, a Christian nonprofit in the U.S. and overseas whose Authentic Masculinity Program ‘teaches men how to be protectors of and providers for their families,’ according to the biography of Ford posted on the website of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. According to that website, Ford is a member of the state’s Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council.”

In 2005, the Tampa Bay Times newspaper reported that Jeffrey Charles Ford, a 27-year-old coach and teacher at J.W. Mitchell High School, resigned after admitting to having sex with an 18-year-old student.

Ford’s bio on the Florida Governor’s website calls Man Up and Go “a global non-profit organization that inspires men to fight for the fatherless as Jesus commands. The organization aims to break the cycle of generational fatherlessness,” and operates “in Uganda, Ethiopia, and the Dominican Republic.”

DeSantis established the Governor’s Faith and Community-Based Initiative in 2019.

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