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PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) – A South Florida teacher has been arrested after being accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.
Philip Velez, 28, appeared before a judge on Monday.
Velez was a culinary arts teacher and basketball coach at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines.
Students and parents were shocked about the news Monday.
“Honestly, I respected him a lot as a teacher. He was pretty cool. He liked all the kids that were his students, and he was kind to me and kind to my classmates, as far as I know,” said student Ryan Cakici. “When I heard what happened I was frankly disgusted.”
“I have daughters. If anyone were to touch my kid I would lose it,” said parent Paula Neher.
According to police, the relationship between Velez and the 17-year-old student began in December.
He reportedly met the student at a fundraiser. The two began talking, and the student would 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 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 underaged 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,” said Cakci. “He did what he did, and he has to suffer the consequences.”
According to the police report, the victim’s family had a tracking device on her phone and found her at Velez’s apartment and called police.
Parents of students at the school are disgusted by the situation.
“I find it ridiculous. I mean a grown man, c’mon. You don’t take any kids or do anything to kids,” said Neher.
“We trust these teachers to help us with our children. It’s not appropriate,” said parent Elke Mulet.
The judge granted Velez an $85,000 bond that was later posted, and he will be released from jail later Monday.
Velez was charged with three counts of sexual battery on a minor and one count of soliciting and engaging in sexual misconduct by an authority figure.