GRAPHIC: Rocky River principal discussed sex, drinking and drugs with former students, police report shows
Dr. Heath Horton remains on leave as police and the school district investigate
WARNING: story contains GRAPIC CONTENT including language that has been edited
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WOIO) - Rocky River police released a 66-page report detailing text conversations between Rocky River School District Principal Dr. Heath Horton and previous students, including conversations about sex, alcohol and drug use.
An investigation into Horton began in June after a complaint was filed by the parent of a former high school student.
After police seized Horton’s cell phone on June 6, they found thousands of explicit text messages with students dating back to 2019.
Horton was the Rocky River High School vice-principal when he began communicating with students outside of school.
The report shows texts between the 42-year-old man and students as young as 16.
Names have been redacted in the report due to the age of the students at the time.
Investigators said Horton allegedly provided underage people with alcohol, with one interviewee telling police he would, “drink and smoke at Heath’s house.”
Texts from Horton include him asking underage people what they like to drink, telling them he can’t wait to get “drunk and smoke together.”
Police said students would be dropped off at Horton’s house or get picked up by Horton and go to his house in Elyria.
In an interview with a former student, the student said Heath had an extra bedroom he referred to as the “Boom Room” where they would drink alcohol and smoke cigars.
In a conversation with a former student, Horton texts about a female he found on a dating app:
In another conversation with a former student he writes:
Investigators said Horton deleted numerous porn searches but data shows he viewed pages with videos.
In May, he viewed a news report about 10 arrested in North Olmsted Human Trafficking sting, including a former superintendent.
Rocky River police have interviewed several former students and parents for the investigation.
Horton has retained counsel. 19 News reached out to Larry Zuckerman but did not hear back at the time of broadcast.
Rocky River City Prosecutor reviewed the case and asked police to go back to the school and get Dr. Horton’s computer, emails and a copy of the employee handbook.
A spokesman from Rocky River City Schools wrote in a statement:
“Over the last three months, the Rocky River City School District (RRCSD) has cooperated with the Rocky River Police Department (RRPD) in their ongoing investigation of Dr. Heath Horton.
We want to reiterate that the district remains committed to maintaining the highest standards of ethics and professionalism among its staff. Our top priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our students, staff and community members.
On June 6, 2023, the district was notified of the RRPD investigation. At that time, Dr. Horton was placed on administrative leave and has not returned to campus. Last week, the RRPD provided a redacted Investigative Report.
With the information provided by the RRPD, the district is now able to conduct its own investigation which will utilize an independent investigator. Dr. Horton remains on administrative leave and barred from school district properties during the investigation.
As new information becomes available, the district will continue to provide updates.”
The case has been turned over to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and to date, there have not been any charges.
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