JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A social studies teacher at Oak Leaf High School in Clay County was arrested Tuesday for allegedly having sexual intercourse numerous times with an underage girl, according to police documents.
Francesco Franzese, 25, faces a felony charge of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, his arrest documents show.
Police learned of a possible sexual relationship between the suspect and the victim after the girl’s father believed inappropriate texting was going on between the two. The victim told police she was involved in a sexual relationship with Franzese, and that they had engaged in intercourse a “handful of times,” according to the arrest affidavit.
She said they had allegedly engaged in sex acts in her car, at a baseball field in the 4000 block of Plantation Oaks Boulevard and his brother’s home. She has known the suspect for about 11 months.
The girl said she believed she had a “real relationship” with the suspect, but he broke up with her sometime after the sexual acts started.
Oakleaf seniors Pierre Lazar and Essence Nettlesbey still can't believe a teacher they had in class was arrested.
"I'm shocked that that happened, he was a great teacher," said Lazar.
It came as shocking and surprising news because the two said Mr. Franzese was such a nice and helpful teacher to them.
"If you needed help with anything he was quick to give advice, if you needed tutoring he was always there. It was kind of shocking to scroll down my news feed and see that," Nettlesbey said.
Clay County District Schools hired Franzese in 2016 after an “extensive background check” that all employees must go under prior to employment. His employment with the school is suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, the school district said.
“We are saddened to address this allegation of inappropriate behavior involving a teacher and a minor,” said superintendent Addison Davis. “This type of behavior is not and will not be tolerated. I want to reassure all parents and guardians that at the end of a thorough investigation, if founded, appropriate action will be taken against the employee. It is imperative that every member in the community knows we take this type of allegation seriously and will continue to ensure that the safety of our students is our greatest priority.”
Mr. Franzese's webpage states he's been teaching for one year and that he wants to introduce students to new cultures, ideas and ways of thinking.
Franzese's former students said they hope no one rushes to judgment.
"I hope he get a fair trial or a fair prosecution," Nettlesbey said.
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