ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A judge ordered an 18-year-old held without bond despite the sometimes-tearful appeals of family members and supporters.
Anthony Guadalupe, whom family calls Josiah, will be held in the St. Johns County Jail on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct against a child. He was arrested July 19 after a child who attends the school where he was an assistant teacher, alleged he touched her private parts with a toy. The arrest report says a classroom surveillance video showed him repeatedly touching the 4-year-old girl in the area of her buttocks.
A letter sent early Wednesday from Melanie Williams, CEO of Chappell Schools, said several more alleged incidents have since been discovered during the investigation. She said parents of the children involved have been contacted.
Nearly 20 parents of children at the school were in court for the bond hearing. None spoke.
Several of Guadalupe’s supporters spoke, including his mother and father. They asked the judge to allow him to remain free during the pendency of the case. At least 40 people showed up in support of his pretrial release.
But Assistant State Attorney Rachel Demers told the judge that Guadalupe posed “a clear and present danger” to the community.
“He is a very serious danger to this community, particularly the children,” she said, adding that no amount of court-ordered supervision was sufficient. “He committed this crime while being supervised,” she said. “He was on video... that was livestreamed to parents…. He was so brazen in that video, there were the kids crawling on him hanging on his arm [during the alleged incident] … During parent pickup. None of that mattered to this defendant.”
She described the video that the judge had seen. “You saw exactly what he did. He targeted this child for his own sexual gratification …Over 25 minutes he molested this 4-year-old child.” She described him as stopping to send kids home with their parents at “pick up time” and then resuming the alleged assault.
Guadalupe’s mother, Jessica, told the judge her son was a good, God-fearing boy. “He will never hurt children. He loves children. He’s been an amazing son.”
She said most of the family, including herself, pastored in a Pentecostal Church called “Rebirth,” before it closed due to Covid. She said he worked with children in numerous capacities, including at other churches, a local orphanage and Picolata Crossing Elementary extended day program.
“We apologize for anything that looked inappropriate, that was not the intention,” she said. It was a big misunderstanding.”
Another pastor at the church, Margie Santiago, told the judge she has known Guadalupe his entire life. “We were able to instill that fear of God in his life,” and maintained the accusations were aberrant.
“This is out of character, this is not who he is, not who he is being made out to be,” she said. “This is something that can totally be taken the wrong way.”
Parents of the children of Chappell School could be seen shaking their heads as Guadalupe’s attorney Curtis Falgatter argued he should be allowed to remain out of custody. When the judge announced his order of no bond, at least one parent wept.
The judge agreed with the State. Saying there was enough evidence in the video that the crime occurred.
On the other side of the courtroom, Guadalupe’s family began sobbing and gasping. Several called out to him as he was taken from the courtroom to jail. “Stay strong, Josiah,” one called out. The teen, who wept during much of the proceeding, left court with his eyes dry and his head down.