A Florida teacher is facing criminal charges for a sexual relationship she allegedly conducted with a 14-year-old student that included sending him nude photos.
Stephanie Peterson (also known as Stephanie Peterson Ferri) was arrested on Wednesday February 28 by police from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious battery and one count of transmission of harmful materials to a minor.
According to the School District, the 26-year-old resigned from her position as a science teacher at New Smyrna Beach Middle School for “personal reasons” on Monday February 26. Police interviewed the student, a boy in Year Eight, on Tuesday after he told his parents about the relationship.
According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal,the student’s parents became suspicious after a phone call from another teacher at the school asking to mentor their son. When the parent jokingly asked their son if the teacher “was going to molest him,” the boy reportedly began to cry and said, “Anyone could molest you.”
His parents thought of Peterson because, police said, their son would “frequent her classroom often”. News-Journal reported that Peterson filed for divorce from estranged firefighter husband Brandon Ferri last month, and often talked to the student about the situation.
The conduct between Peterson and the student is believed to have begun in November 2017. The boy told police that his teacher sent him naked photos, some via Snapchat. She came to his house at night “on several occasions” to collect him at 11pm and drop him back several hours later, and on one occasion they allegedly had sex in her car.
“The victim reported that Peterson told him they couldn’t tell anyone about their relationship or they’d get in trouble,” the Sheriff’s Office said in an update on Facebook.
The update also stated that Peterson had allegedly supplied the student with marijuana and smoking equipment. He told police that his performance at school at had been negatively impacted by this, and that his grades had suffered during the course of the relationship.
After arrest, Peterson was held on a US$25,000 bond (approximately AUD$32,000)