Marissa Hedden is telling her story again in hopes that this time it will create change within the St. Lucie County School District.
“I really want the school system to wake up and see the problem that’s right in front of them,” said Hedden.
During her junior year, Hedden says her teacher Alexander Marcial Rivera was inappropriate with her.
“He would make comments about my body,” said Hedden. “For the longest time when he would ask me for [nude] videos and pictures, I always thought he was kidding.”
Hedden said Marcial Rivera showed her a picture on his cell phone of him in a towel. She said one day the advances became physical.
“He had approached me in the back of the classroom and he unzipped my jacket and he tried pulling down my shirt,” said Hedden.
She claims Marcial Rivera touched her under her clothes. A Port Saint Lucie Police report said he denied ever touching her.
Police do say they found the picture of him in a towel on his phone, the one Hedden described but didn’t find enough evidence to bring charges. Hedden said no one from the district ever interviewed her.
The next semester another student came forward with claims against Marcial Rivera and that’s when investigators arrested him on charges of possession of child pornography and promoting sexual performance by a child. Hedden’s mother feels it should have happened sooner.
“It was swept under the rug I felt and then someone else got hurt,” said Ketura Hedden.
WPTV tried to talk with Marcial Rivera at his home about the lawsuit.
“I don’t have any comments on that,” he said behind his door.
Attorney Chad Hastings, partner at Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith says the lawsuit is about the bigger picture. It names 10 other cases in the news since 2014 involving sexual allegations involving teachers in the district.
“They [School District] indicated to us that they had no notice that anything was going on with Alexander Marcial Rivera or anything else in St. Lucie County, but what about this notice, what about this notice,” said Hastings as he pulled out article after article of news headlines of teachers investigated for allegations.
The St. Lucie County School District says every hire goes through a background check and that every allegation of child abuse is investigated by law enforcement. They say Marcial Rivera was fired in October last year. His criminal case is still ongoing. The district said it will not comment on the pending lawsuit.