POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - A Broward County substitute teacher is accused of performing oral sex on a teenage student, authorities announced Friday.
Vernell Hicks, 30, of Pompano Beach, was arrested Thursday on charges of committing a sexual offense on a victim 12 to 15 years of age, lewd and lascivious behavior on a victim 12 to 16 and lewd and lascivious conduct by a person 18 or older.
According to an arrest report, the victim's mother contacted the Broward Sheriff's Office Wednesday after discovering inappropriate Facebook messages on her 15-year-old son's cellphone between her son and Hicks.
Deputies said the conversations started in June 2017 and continued until Tuesday.
Authorities said the conversations consisted of the two coordinating when Hicks was going to perform oral sex on the teen.
The victim's mother told deputies that Hicks was her son's substitute teacher two years ago at Crystal Lake Middle School.
The victim was interviewed by detectives and claimed that Hicks helped him open a Facebook account while he was teaching at the middle school.
The victim said the two began to communicate online, and Hicks would pick him up from his home on multiple occasions and drive him to commercial warehouse areas, where he would perform oral sex on the victim.
The victim said this happened five to six times, authorities said.
According to the arrest report, Hicks initially denied the accusations, but then confessed to performing oral sex on the victim once.
Hicks is being held in lieu of a $150,000 bond. He has been ordered not to have contact with the victim or any minors and is to have no internet access.
A Broward County Public Schools spokeswoman said Hicks has since been fired from his teaching job.
According to the spokeswoman, Hicks was hired in September 2015 as a substitute teacher, and he worked between Crystal Lake Middle School and Pompano Beach Middle School.
From July 2017 to the present, he worked as a substitute teacher only at Pompano Beach Middle School. Hicks was arrested at the school Thursday as classes were getting out for the day.
"It makes me feel kind of unsafe, knowing a teacher can do this," student Jennifer Valerie said.
Parents who spoke to Local 10 News Friday also expressed their concerns about the arrest.
"I would rather not talk because I am going to get totally sick right now," parent Amber Nolan said. "It is so disgusting. I am glad he is where he belongs."
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