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St. Lucie County substitute teacher arrested

Posted at 7:35 PM, Nov 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-01 04:23:25-05

A substitute teacher in St. Lucie County was fired from his position this week after admitting to having multiple sexual encounters with a teenage girl.

Freedom Whitfield, 24, of Fort Pierce was arrested last week and charged with lewd or lascivious battery of a minor. Whitfield is known in the viewing area as a Fort Pierce native and former football player at Florida Atlantic University. 

The victim's mother said she caught her 15-year-old daughter having sex with Whitfield on Friday night.

According the arrest report, the girl's parents dropped her off at her grandmother's for the night and learned Whitfield had picked her up. They went to his house and found the pair leaving.  

The victim's mother told WPTV NewsChannel 5 she is not sure how her daughter first met Whitfield, but did not believe he had served as her substitute teacher.

The family said they are too afraid to speak on camera but wanted the public to know Whitfield bailed out of jail on a $30,000 bond. 

A police report said the arrest occurred after Whitfield and the girl had a sexual encounter last week.

After initially denying it, Whitfield admitted to police that he had sex with the girl numerous times in the past and knew how old she was. Investigators also said they found an inappropriate picture of the teenager on his cellphone. 

Concerned parents were angry upon hearing of the allegations. 

"I think it's outrageous they have a substitute teacher doing that," said parent John O'Donnell.

"They need to come up with a better way of ... filtering out predators," said Ximena Betancourt. "This is not acceptable at all."

The district released the following statement regarding Whitfield's termination:

"St. Lucie Public Schools was made aware that an individual who worked as a substitute teacher was arrested based on allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a minor. The employee under investigation has been terminated from all duties and responsibilities associated with the District.  Behavior such as this represents a serious breach of ethics and will not be tolerated. The School District is working in full cooperation with its partners in law enforcement as officials proceed with this active investigation.”