A Jupiter middle school teacher has been charged two years after an illicit sexual encounter with one of his students on school grounds. The teacher had been on the administration’s radar for non-criminal conduct that lent itself to the appearance of impropriety but was not charged with any crime until allegations of sexual abuse came forward. The victim was 15 or 16 at the time of the alleged incident and is now 18 and a freshman in college.
There’s the old statement, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Defense attorneys are very uncomfortable with such statements because they allow the public and prosecutors to infer criminal activities from perhaps questionable judgment. Under the law, questionable judgment is not actionable. You cannot accidentally molest a child. The conduct must be intentional.
In this case, the school administration had issues with this particular teacher in the past. The teacher was prone to taking students into the classroom closet to reprimand them. He also had a couch in his classroom that he was asked to remove, but never did. Eventually, the staff removed the couch. When he was coaching the girl’s basketball team, he allowed the female students to change in his classroom. The students stated that the teacher would not be in the classroom while they were changing. So nothing was done. He had students from his class stay with him after school to help him with administrative paperwork. School officials put a stop to that too.
Based on these “red flags” the teacher was moved from teaching 8th-grade students to teaching 6th-grade students. He was relieved from his role as the girls’ basketball coach.
After those incidents, another incident became known. The teacher was accused by a former student of having sex with the student in the classroom closet. Students and the victim stated that the teacher spoke to the victim more often in class, provided her with special attention, and “gave her good grades for doing nothing.” At the end of the 8th grade school year, the teacher and victim exchanged cell phone numbers and remained in touch. The victim helped the teacher with administrative paperwork after school. At that point, the teacher became “friendlier” with the victim, giving her hugs and other displays of affection. The victim enjoyed the attention and liked her teacher. When the teacher began escalating the conduct, the victim knew it was wrong, but her affection for the teacher prevented her from reporting it. She visited the teacher after she had graduated from elementary school and that is when the alleged sexual abuse occurred.
At some point later, the victim was questioned by staff and she told them that no misconduct had occurred. She was asked not to return to the campus again. The victim came forward two years after the incident occurred telling police that the teacher had used her and it bothered her every day.
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