The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office has arrested a Port St. Lucie High School coach and guidance counselor for interfering with the custody of a minor after an investigation revealed the teacher had allegedly kissed and "cuddled" with a 17-year-old female student.
According to a release from the sheriff's office, detectives met with 29-year-old Cecilia Alvarez at the school this morning and conducted an interview after they learned of the alleged incident from the student's mother on Friday.
The teen told detectives the two had kissed and "cuddled up together" and would go to CityPlace in West Palm Beach so they could "walk around and stuff without anyone seeing us together."
According to the report, the teen told investigators she and Alvarez would often cry when speaking about the fear of getting caught and that they "knew it was wrong but couldn't help their feelings for each other."
After the interview with detectives on the school grounds, Alvarez was transported to the Sheriff's Office and placed under arrest.
"Our investigation revealed that the teacher, Cecilia Alvarez, had been sexually involved with a 17-year-old female victim for about a month," Sheriff Mascara said. "Our School Resource Deputy at Port St. Lucie High School became aware of the relationship, as did the victim's mother, and we began our investigation Friday."
As to why the charges wouldn't be lewd and lascivious instead, the Sheriff's office says the facts of the case and the age of the victim indicated that the custodial interference charge was the most appropriate criminal charge under Florida law.
The case will be referred to the State Attorney's Office.
Tammy Feller of the St. Lucie County School Board issued this statement, "The consistent and primary concern of Saint Lucie County Public Schools is always the safety, security and welfare of the students we serve. This is a criminal law enforcement investigation and employees will proceed through the established process. The active investigation prohibits school officials from comment."
St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office issued a clarification to an earlier news release that described the relationship between Ms. Alvarez and the girl.
"The investigation did not indicate that there was sexual involvement between the adult and the juvenile. Neither party admitted to any sexual acts as defined by Florida law. That is why the charge of custodial interference was the appropriate charge," Mark Weinberg, Public Information Officer with SLCSO said.
People who know Alvarez were surprised by the news.
"I was shocked," says former student Frank Monteleone, "She was a nice lady. She never really looked at kids like that."