JUPITER FARMS, Fla. — An employee of Jupiter Farms Elementary School was arrested Wednesday for unlawful sexual activity with a 17-year-old, Jupiter police said.
The incident occurred at about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at a park located on the 1700 block of Indian Creek Drive East in Jupiter. Police said they found Sebastiano Scionti, 25, in the backseat of a parked car engaging in sexual activity with a 17-year-old girl.
The Jupiter Farms Elementary School community said they heard through word-of-mouth and social media that someone they considered a friendly face was in jail instead of at the school.
"It caught me off guard, it caught me off guard," Tripp Taylor said. "I didn't see that coming at all."
Taylor, a dad of twins, said he didn't know what to think when he learned Scionti was arrested for sexual assault and lewd behavior.
"I know Sebastian from the school events, from the pick-up line," Taylor said. "Didn't get a bad vibe from him, always seemed great with the kids."
According to the police report, text messages between Scionti and the girl revealed that Scionti was aware the girl was 17 years old, even though he told police she was 18.
The victim told detectives she and Scionti had been "fooling around" for about a month, the arrest report said.
Parents WPTV spoke to said they are shocked about the accusations and said Scionti was well-liked around campus.
"The kids love Mr. Sebastian," parent Robie McClellan said. "He's so sweet. He's always just there for them and a really positive influence on them."
"It's just very sad when you have such a great school and something like that happens," Rosemary Giuffre, who is a grandmother, said.
Jupiter Farms Elementary School Principal Suzanne Matuella sent the following message, in part, to parents and staff Thursday afternoon:
I am writing to inform you that a non-instructional member of the Jupiter Farms Elementary School staff was arrested yesterday by the Jupiter Police Department. Sebastiano Scionti served as a paraprofessional on campus and an aftercare counselor. The arrest occurred off campus and did not involve any students at our school. Mr. Scionti will not be returning to Jupiter Farms Elementary School. Safety and security on our campus are our highest priorities. While this appears to be an isolated incident, an investigation was immediately launched. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the School District Police Dispatch at (561) 434-8700.
"At first, I was sad, because I like him," Taylor said. "Then maybe a little bit of worry if anything else had happened. Then, just hoping it was someone who made a bad decision."
Scionti was booked into Palm Beach County jail and faces charges of lewd and lascivious behavior and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
He was ordered to have no contact with the victim, anyone under 18 or any school in Palm Beach County.