HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A 28-year-old teacher at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines was arrested Sunday on accusations that he has been in a “sexual relationship” with a 17-year-old girl at his school since December, authorities said.
According to his arrest report, Philip Gerald Velez, of Hollywood, confessed to having sex multiple times with the teen and told police that he considered her to be his girlfriend.
He also said that they had spoken about how it was wrong for them to be together because of the victim’s age, the report stated.
Hollywood police said they were notified on Saturday by the victim’s father who was told by his eldest daughter that the teen had been acting suspiciously over the last few weeks and that her cellphone locator showed her at an apartment complex in Hollywood.
Police went to the apartment unit and made contact with Velez.
According to the arrest report, officers asked Velez if he knew where the teen was and he advised them that his girlfriend was inside the apartment.
Police said the teen told officers that she and Velez were having sex when the officers knocked on the door.
According to the arrest report, Velez and the victim met in November at a fundraising event for school. Velez is reportedly an assistant basketball coach and teaches culinary arts.
Police said the teen told them that they texted back and forth before meeting outside the school a few times to speak in person.
She said she eventually went to his apartment at the end of December and that’s when they began to have a sexual relationship, authorities said.
Velez was arrested on charges of sexual assault on a minor and soliciting sexual conduct with a student while being an authority figure.
He appeared in court Monday and was ordered held in lieu of an $85,000 bond. His attorney had asked for a reduced bond, arguing that the teen is less than 60 days away from being a consenting adult and that his family supports him in the matter.
“I don’t make light of it. He’s a teacher, but he is a young teacher,” defense attorney Kenneth Hassett said. “Doesn’t make a lot of money and has no prior record.”
Velez bonded out of jail early Monday evening but did not answer any questions while being helped to a vehicle by apparent family members.
The conditions of Velez’s bond is that he must surrender his passport and have no contact with the student or any other minor who is not a family member.
He is also not permitted to return to the high school campus during the period of his release.
“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 in the virtual court hearing.
A spokesperson from Broward County Public Schools confirmed in an email to Local 10 News that Velez has worked at Flanagan High School since July 25, 2019.
“He is currently active and there’s no additional information on his status at this time,” the spokesperson said.
A student of Velez’s told Local 10 News that he was surprised to learn of the news.
“I would have never expected this from him ever,” the student said. “When I heard what happened, I was frankly disgusted, honestly ‘cause I really did have a lot of respect for him.”
Christine Butkowski, a concerned parent at the school, said: “What’s wrong with these people? Teachers are teachers ... They have a role, and the students look up to them.”