A Polk County high school teacher has been arrested on charges of having sex multiple times with a female 15-year-old student.
Jason Argo, 34, of Valrico, had sex with the student in his classroom at Mulberry High School and at home, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The alleged sexual encounters occurred during the 2014-2015 school year, deputies said.
Video of Argo's arrest provided by the Sheriff's Office
The student told deputies Argo was a well-liked teacher, and students often left sticky notes with personal messages on his desk.
The student and Argo began exchanging sexual text messages after she left a note with her number on his desk, deputies said. The student told deputies she left her number as a joke because she knew he’d been investigated previously for communicating with a student via social media.
The student says she had sex with Argo twice in his classroom in May 2015 and once at his home June 30, 2015, deputies said. She remembered the latter date because it is his birthday.
After one of the sexual encounters, Argo told the student he felt guilty because he is married and his wife was pregnant, deputies said.
"He is using a variety of excuses for his behavior, none of which make any sense to us," said Carrie Horstman, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
In an interview with deputies, Argo told them he was “weak” at the time because he was still going through the previous investigation for communicating on social media with a student, deputies said. He said it was causing problems at home.
He told deputies he has post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in the Marines, which led him to drink, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He said these factors caused him to become “weak.”
"He told us that he was suffering from PTSD being a military veteran, that's despicable to even say something like that," Horstman said.
Now, PCSO is concerned there could be more victims out there, as Argo has a previous track record of inappropriate contact with students. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the sheriff's office.
Argo is charged with three counts of sexual battery by custodian on a victim between 12 and 18 years old.
He has worked for the Polk County school system since Aug. 2010.
He began his career with Polk County schools as an English teacher at Mulberry Middle School. In July 2014, he joined Mulberry High School, where he teaches the same subject.