Crime Fla. High School Teacher Caught with Underage Student in His Apartment, Charged with Sexual Battery
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A police knock at the apartment of a Florida high school teacher allegedly interrupted a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old student. Now the teacher is facing multiple charges of sexual battery.
The teacher, 28-year-old Philip Velez, and the student had previously discussed how her age made their relationship inappropriate, according to an arrest affidavit by the Hollywood police obtained by PEOPLE.
Nonetheless, Velez identified the minor as his girlfriend when Hollywood police showed up Saturday at his residence to look for the girl, who was traced to the location by a phone app, per the affidavit.
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"I don't make light of it. He's a teacher, but he is a young teacher," Velez' defense attorney, Kenneth Hassett, said at a bond hearing Monday shown on.
Hassett defended his client at the hearing where the suspect's bond was set at $85,000, arguing that in another 60 days, the alleged victim would be 18 and thus reach the age of consent, reports.
According to the affidavit, the alleged victim told police that she began talking with Velez in November following a school event, and eventually she went to his apartment where the two engaged in sex for the first of four or five times.
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The alleged victim's sister observed her acting suspicious in recent weeks, according to the arrest report, and on Saturday the sister told their father that a cellphone locater indicated the alleged victim was at a Hollywood apartment complex.
The father alerted police, who then made contact with Velez at the address to ask about the girl's whereabouts. The teen told officers that she and Velez were having sex when they arrived, the arrest report stated.
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Velez has been employed by Broward County Public Schools at Flanagan High School since July 2019, the district confirmed. He teaches culinary arts and is reportedly an assistant basketball coach, WPLG reports.
"He's in a position where he is supposed to be protecting children, teaching children, not engaging in sexual relations with them," Broward County prosecutor Eric Linder said during the bond hearing, according to the outlet.
Velez bonded out of jail Monday evening. He is charged with three counts of sexual battery by an adult on a victim between ages 12 and 18, and one count of being an authority figure engaging in sexual conduct with a student. It was unclear whether he had entered a plea.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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