In­ves­ti­ga­tors: Teacher ac­cused of ‘groom­ing’ teen

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Doug Phillips and Lisa J. Huri­ash

A teacher was “groom­ing” a 16-year-old stu­dent for a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship, call­ing her gor­geous, send­ing her sex­u­ally charged text mes­sages and ask­ing her to be his teenage bride, the Broward Sher­iff ’s Of­fice said.

John Teti, 41, who worked at North­east High School in Oak­land Park, was ar­rested Thurs­day on the charge of so­lic­it­ing a ro­man­tic, lewd and sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with the girl.

Teti, who was hired last year, no longer works for the school dis­trict. On the day of his ar­rest, the dis­trict’s Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gate Unit “de­liv­ered a let­ter of ter­mi­na­tion to this in­di­vid­ual, who had been re­as­signed away from the school since early Jan­uary 2019,” said Na­dine Drew, a dis­trict spokes­woman.

Groom­ing is a “com­mon prac­tice among pe­dophiles” who start re­la­tion­ships with chil­dren with “ac­tions of fa­voritism to build trust,” the Sher­iff ’s Of­fice said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said Teti was groom­ing the girl from Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber, in­clud­ing by us­ing a vape pen to get high while the two of them were alone in the class­room and al­low­ing her to skip class by hang­ing out in his class­room. Au­thor­i­ties said he also of­fered to pick her up at her house and take her to McDon­ald’s be­fore school, of­fered to let her use his pri­vate Vudu ac­count and vol­un­teered to go to her house for tu­tor­ing, while us­ing emo­jis in the mes­sage to show he meant sex.

In one mes­sage, Teti asked the teen, “If my wife were to sud­denly die, would you be my teenage bride?” the ar­rest re­port said. He sent her an­other text that said: “What’s it called when you have the munchies, but for a per­son?”

Even af­ter the girl twice asked Teti to stop his pur­suit and termed his ac­tions “creepy,” he con­tin­ued com­mu­ni­cat­ing with her, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

His be­hav­ior es­ca­lated from com­mu­ni­ca­tion to phys­i­cal con­tact, in­clud­ing an un­so­licited hug in front of other stu­dents, and fi­nally, a pack­age de­liv­ery to her home of food and snacks, the Sher­iff’s Of­fice said. This up­set the teen, who had never told him her ad­dress and “caused the vic­tim to panic,” it said. Her sib­lings de­cided to tell their par­ents af­ter Christ­mas, and the girl’s fa­ther alerted au­thor­i­ties.

Af­ter his ar­rest, Teti told de­tec­tives he had a “spe­cial re­la­tion­ship” with the girl and ad­mit­ted send­ing the mes­sages early in the morn­ing “when he was lonely,” the ar­rest re­port said.

Dur­ing a court ap­pear­ance Fri­day, Broward Judge Jackie Pow­ell set Teti’s bond at $50,000, or­dered that he wear a GPS-track­ing de­vice and told him not to have con­tact with the girl or any other mi­nor when he bonds out of jail.

Teti first worked as a sub­sti­tute teacher from March 12 to April 22, and since April 23, he had been a teacher at North­east High, the school dis­trict said.

Teti had drawn scru­tiny on the job. In Oc­to­ber he was rep­ri­manded for “in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­mu­ni­ca­tion with stu­dents” while us­ing an app meant for par­ents, teach­ers and stu­dents to stay con­nected, the Sher­iff’s Of­fice said. But the school ad­min­is­tra­tion wrote him up “in re­gards to main­tain­ing a pro­fes­sional and eth­i­cal dis­tance with his stu­dents,” the Sher­iff ’s Of­fice said.

The teacher kept com­mu­ni­cat­ing with some of his stu­dents, us­ing cell­phones for the rest of the se­mes­ter, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

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