A teacher at a Broward County school has been arrested after admitting to police he had a sexual relationship with a female student from the same school.
Philip Velez, 28, a culinary arts teacher and basketball coach at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines appeared before a judge on Monday. He was charged with three counts of sexual battery on a minor and one count of an authority figure engaging in sexual misconduct with a student.
Velez and the Victim's Sexual Relationship Began in December
According to local news outlet WSVN, Velez and the 17-year-old student's sexual relationship began in December. He reportedly met the student at a fundraising event in November. The two began talking and the student would even visit him in his classroom.
Police said the student then visited Velez's Hollywood home where the two had sexual intercourse on several occasions. The victim told police the two had sex "four or five times" and they each performed additional sexual acts on each other. The two were having sex on Saturday night at Velez's home, located off Van Buren Street, when officers arrived.
According to the police report, the victim's family had a tracking device installed on her phone and found her at Velez's apartment before alerting police.
In a taped statement, Velez said he considered the teen his "girlfriend" and that he had feelings for her before they began having sex. He told police he knew the victim's age and the two had spoken about the fact "it was wrong to be together" because of it.
Velez's Attorney Argued Victim was Only 2 Months Away from Her 18th Birthday
The defense attorney argued that the teen was just two months away from her 18th birthday. "If your honor takes a look at the PC, you will see that the alleged victim in the case is 17 years old. She is less than 60 days away from being a consenting adult," the defense attorney said. "It is alleged that Mr. Velez is a teacher at Flanagan High and that the alleged victim and Mr. Velez were engaged in a sexual relationship."
"He was a teacher. He knew how old she was. They participated in the fundraising. This is an educational or a school event," said Broward County Court Judge Joseph Murphy.
Prosecutors reminded the court that she is underage and not a consenting adult. "He's her teacher, he's in a position where he should be protecting children," said one prosecutor. "Underage is underage. There's no, nothing 60 days, there's no excuse. There's no lowering the penalty or anything. He did what he did, and he has to suffer the consequences."
The judge granted Velez an $85,000 bond that was later posted, and he will be released from jail later Monday.