Jose Zepeda, a 38-year-old math teacher at a Key Largo school, turned himself in to police today after a warrant was issued for his arrest on a battery charge.
That battery allegedly included regularly putting his hands on the thighs of a 12-year-old female student and, on one occasion, trying to get her to notice the "bulge" in his pants, police say.
Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Becky Herrin says the girl told detectives that Zepeda would have her sit next to his desk during class to help her with the math material she was having trouble with.
The girl told police that Zepeda would put his hand on her thigh on several occasions throughout the school year but told detectives that on May 9, Zepeda moved his hand up her thigh until it was close to her groin area, and she pushed his hand away, Herrin says.
The girl told cops that the next day, Zepeda put his hand on her thigh again, then looked down at his crotch, police say.
When Zepeda looked back at the girl, then back at his crotch, the girl told detectives that's when she noticed "a bulge in his pants," according to police.
That's when the girl stopped going to the class and ended up telling her sister about the incident -- who ended up telling her parents, who ended up calling the Department of Children and Families.
During an interview, Herrin says Zepeda told a detective he touched the girl's leg "many times" but denied that his touching was sexual in nature.
Three other students in the class interviewed by the detective said they saw Zepeda touch the girl's leg too, Herrin says.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Zepeda turned himself in on the battery charge today and has since been released after posting $1,000 bond.