By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
By August 20, 2006, D.N. was writing that she was "in love." The couple first "made love" on September 10, she says, but nine days later, D.N. was crying because "he made me feel so horrible. I will never be his #1, ever. Work will always come before family or even me."
Over the next year, D.N. later told police, she had sexual liaisons with Foster in his apartment, in school bathrooms, and on the catwalk in the auditorium. They had sex "almost every day" despite the emotional turmoil. One day, D.N. exclaimed, "I love him!" Another, she wrote, "I feel sad, I feel hurt, I feel alone, and I feel used."
By February of 2007, documents show, D.N. was suspicious about Foster's closeness with another girl. She told Foster of a pregnancy scare. She shared "the feeling that I could be cheated on and no, nothing — he just laughed and said 'Cheated on? We're not even together.'"
Late that month, she wrote, "I miscarried, That has to be it. I looked it up on the computer... Is it a blessing?? I'm not even 18 and I've already lost a child?"
D.N. told police that she found out she was pregnant for sure in June, the day before the drama group took a trip to the Keys. While in Islamorada, she looked at Foster's phone to discover text messages he'd sent to another female student. D.N. confronted Foster and told him of her pregnancy.
Florida law requires minors under the age of 18 to obtain parental consent when seeking an abortion. However, on July 6, D.N. went before a judge in juvenile court to request that parental notification be waived.
According to police, "on July 7, Foster drove her to the clinic and she had an abortion." Foster signed paperwork and paid $300 of the fee. D.N. paid the other $100.
Police say D.N. kept her relationship with Foster secret until Labor Day weekend, when she revealed details of the affair to her close friend, fellow drama student Perpetua Michel, who in turn urged D.N. to tell her mother, who then called police.
Detective Vinny Mintus headed to D.N.'s home. He was surprised to find an audience. About eight other drama kids, including Michel, had come to the house. Mintus decided to set up a controlled phone call between D.N. and Foster — but while the two were speaking, Michel left the room and texted Foster, warning him that police were setting a trap. The line went dead.
Michel would later plead guilty to a charge of resisting an officer without violence. She described Foster as her best friend.
Foster never showed up for work again, and he was considered to have voluntarily resigned from his position. Police spent the next two weeks looking for him. They seized his Grand Am and searched his apartment. They took his bedsheets into evidence.
There are no smiley faces or mushy descriptions in the language of cops and courts. To investigators and prosecutors, Foster's two students are "victims." Foster is "the defendant." What happened between them was abuse.
Police interviewed "Victim #2" (the girl whose text messages from Foster D.N. had discovered), who said she'd had sex with Foster two times at his apartment and, like D.N., received sexual texts and images from Foster on a cell phone.
Meanwhile, U.S. marshals used phone records to track Foster's whereabouts. They indicated he had traveled to Indiana and back to Florida. On September 20, he surrendered to the Fugitive Task Force at a motel in Immokalee. He had two pictures of "Victim #2" in his suitcase.
Foster's lawyer, Mark Solomon, said, "It's been a tragedy for everyone involved. Andrew Foster was a special teacher who perhaps cared too much, and because of that, now he's in the position where he's at. Once you put yourself out there and become a public figure, you're subject to accusations whether true or false."
Two criminal cases were opened against Foster, one for each victim. He was charged with multiple counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and transmission of pornography by electronic device. He was later charged with witness tampering as well. If Foster were to receive the maximum sentence for each of these charges, his lawyer says, he would face more than 200 years in prison.
Seattle schoolteacher Mary Kay Letourneau became the poster woman for illicit school sex affairs in 1997, when she was 34 and arrested for abusing her then-12-year-old student. Although it may seem that such incidents have been popping up nonstop ever since, the actual number is hard to quantify. An Associated Press investigation released in October found that, around the country between 2001 and 2005, states took action against the licenses of 2,570 teachers following allegations of sexual abuse. There are more than 3 million public school teachers nationwide.
Mark Pudlow of the Florida Education Association says, "The legal standard we keep repeating is 'innocent until proven guilty.' But once the mug shots go up or the report is on TV, it's really difficult for people to overcome.
There are 180,000 teachers in Florida," Pudlow says. "It's an incredible minority of teachers who get involved in anything like this."