Ocala elementary school principal accused of hitting, choking, slapping student

The principal of a private Christian elementary school in Ocala has landed himself in jail after he allegedly attacked a student in a classroom for over an hour, according to an arrest affidavit from the Marion County Sheriff's Office. 

Dontay "Donnie" Akeem Prophet, 33, principal at Destiny Leadership Academy (DLA), was arrested on May 11 after surveillance video from a classroom showed Prophet physically restraining a young boy, authorities said. 

He is charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment of a child after the incident that unfolded the day prior on the school's campus, the arrest affidavit said. According to a letter to parents obtained by FOX 35, Prophet has also been fired. 

Deputies responded to the elementary school on U.S. Highway 441 on Friday after school administration learned that Prophet had allegedly battered a student in a classroom, as seen on video surveillance footage, the affidavit said. 

"This child is under the age of 13, and nobody has the right to put their hands on this child the way this teacher did," Valerie Strong, a public information officer with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, told FOX 35. 


Dontay Prophet was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment of a child on May 11, 2024. (Photo: Marion County Sheriffs Office)

Deputies reviewed the surveillance video, which starts at 11:34 a.m. with the boy's head down on a table and Prophet approaching him, the affidavit said. Prophet allegedly started to poke and grab the boy's inner thigh to get a hold of him before he fell onto the ground. That's when Prophet sits on top of him and then carries him off the floor and back onto the chair, the report added. 


Prophet then allegedly put the student in a chokehold, wrapped his legs around him, and prevented him from leaving the classroom. The boy tried to leave multiple times, but Prophet picked him up and pinned him to the ground, the affidavit said. 

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Later on, Prophet blocked the classroom door to prevent him from leaving again. The boy then hides underneath a table, but Prophet grabs him. The student starts kicking Prophet to get away, but that's when the principal allegedly grabbed his ankle and twisted it. 


Dontay Prophet was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment of a child on May 11, 2024. (Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

Prophet then smacked the boy in the face and again on the side of his head with a computer charger before picking him up and throwing him on the floor, the affidavit said. 

At 12:40 p.m., the boy was able to leave the classroom. 

The boy's teacher reported the incident to the school's secretary after she heard yelling from the classroom. When she looked inside the door's window, she said she saw Prophet yelling at the child, slamming him on the ground, and preventing him from leaving the room, the affidavit said. 

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She asked the boy what happened to his head, and he said Prophet had hit him in the head with a computer charger, the arrest report added. 

Deputies spoke with the boy, who was "shy and scared" and said he was hit in the head with a computer charger. He didn't want to speak with deputies beyond explaining that he was sore from his injuries, the affidavit said. 

The boy's mother told deputies that she didn't know what happened to her son, but she "could tell something was off due to him being quiet and not acting like himself," the affidavit said. 

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"Did Mr. Prophet call you about today?" the boy reportedly asked his mother but did not elaborate further. 


Dontay Prophet was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment of a child on May 11, 2024. (Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

Deputies contacted the principal, who agreed to speak in a post-Miranda interview. He said he did have a physical altercation with the student that stemmed from alleged "suicidal statements" he was making, the affidavit said. 

Prophet said he was holding the student down, "preventing him to leave the classroom because he was scared the victim would leave the school and run into traffic," the affidavit added. 

The principal denied harming the child and said he "just wanted to prevent him from committing suicide," the affidavit said. 

"However, the evidence clearly contradicted this assertion," the Marion County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post. 

In the bodycam footage from the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the deputy told Prophet that he didn't believe he was trying to stop the child in the incident, which lasted over an hour.  


Dontay Prophet was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment of a child on May 11, 2024. (Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

Strong added, "In no way did this footage even give you an inkling that that was what he was trying to do. The only thing he was trying to do in this video was cause harm to this child."

"All the child did was try to get out of the room. The child did not strike him," Strong said. "He just found to get out of this room. It was very traumatizing to see, and any parent to see this – you left your kids in this person's hands. And this person was supposed to be trustworthy. 

"This is the principal of a school, and this is the way he treated this child."

Strong also mentioned that Prophet didn't know there was a surveillance camera in that classroom and was "shocked" to find out when he was arrested. This moment was captured on deputies' body-worn camera footage, which you can view in the player above. 

Additionally, Strong said the teachers and other school administrators said the student was great, never had any problems, was intellectual, and "just an all-around joy to be around." It remains unclear at this time why Prophet decided to allegedly take his anger out on this child. 

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Prophet was taken into custody at the Marion County Jail, where he remains without bond. 

Destiny Leadership Academy sent a letter to parents on Saturday informing them of the incident that happened involving Prophet. FOX 35 obtained a copy of that letter. 

"We will continue to uphold our standards of excellence and nurture an environment where every child can flourish academically, socially, and spiritually. We understand that this may be upsetting for some students – and staff. Therefore, support services will be available," the letter said. 

A private meeting with parents is scheduled for Monday evening. 


Dontay Prophet was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment of a child on May 11, 2024. (Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

In 2019, Prophet was arrested on molestation charges stemming from a 2017 incident, court records show. 

He allegedly invited a boy, whom he met while he was a camp counselor, to several events, including the Ocala Grand Prix, his classroom at Osceola Middle School, and the Ocala Mall, according to an affidavit. In November 2017, Prophet invited the boy to his apartment to watch a movie, and at one point on the couch, he allegedly placed his penis against the boy's backside. 

"Do you feel that?" he asked the boy, the affidavit said, adding that there was no penetration and both males kept their clothes on. 

According to the affidavit, the boy reportedly asked Prophet if he'd done this before, and he said, "Yes, to one other student."

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The charges were eventually dropped to "interfering with child custody," and Prophet was sentenced to 90 days in jail and probation. 

"It's just devastating that someone who has a previous history with law enforcement, dealing with students, had the ability to put his hands on another child," Strong said. "And we know as parents, as citizens, we look for teachers and principals to care and protect our children and out little citizens. And it's devastating to know that this man had the ability to hurt a child for really what looks like no reason at all." 

FOX 35 is working to obtain a copy of the surveillance footage. 

FOX 35 reporter Randi Hildreth contributed to this report. 

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, help and resources are available. Dial 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly Suicide Prevention Lifeline), or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If in a life-threatening situation, call 911.