Suzanne Owen, a now fired teacher at an evangelical school in Fort Myers, Florida, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a student, local authorities announced in a news release.
Owen’s name was also given by the Lee County Sheriff’s Department as Suzanne Lea Owen. She is 35-years-old, according to the department’s news release. Owen is but the latest in a string of female teachers throughout the United States to be accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student. The cases have spanned the country, and there have been other unrelated incidents in Florida involving different female teachers.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Owen Was Accused of Having an ‘Inappropriate Sexual Relationship’ with a Student
According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, Suzanne Owen was placed under arrest. “Detectives arrested a local high school teacher for having an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of her students,” the Lee County Sheriff’s news release said.
The investigation moved fast; it began on April 11, 2018, the same day that Owen’s arrest was announced, authorities revealed. “On April 11, 2018, Lee County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit detectives began investigating an alleged sexual relationship between a 35-year old female teacher and one of her male students,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote.
Owen is from North Fort Myers, Florida. She was a teacher at Evangelical Christian School, which describes itself in its mission statement as “an independent Christian preschool through grade twelve. We offer a traditional Campus and Online Academy.”
2. Authorities Say They Uncovered Text Messages Between Owen & the Student
Electronic communication has been a factor in many of the cases involving female teachers throughout the United States, and the Owen case is no different in that regard.
“Deputies responded to Evangelical Christian School at 8237 Beacon Boulevard, Fort Myers, and met with the suspect, Suzanne Lea Owen (DOB 07-09-82),” the press release stated.
“The investigation revealed that she had one sexual encounter with the male student one week prior, where the two decided to meet off-campus. Detectives further discovered the teacher had been communicating with the student through personal text messages several weeks prior to the incident.”
The bond for Owen, who is married, was set at $50,000. “She’s ordered not to have any contact with minors, and can only have supervised contact with her own children. She’s not allowed back on school property, or able to contact anyone that works at the school besides her husband,” according to NBC 2. On LinkedIn, she defines herself as a high school teacher.
3. Owen, Previously a Finalist for a Teaching Award Called the ‘Golden Halo,’ Is Accused of a Felony
Authorities are taking the accusations very seriously, although they haven’t released many more details of them. They are accusing Owen of a felony crime.
“Suzanne Lea Owen has been charged with Custodial Sexual Battery, a first degree felony, and booked into the Lee County Jail,” the press release stated.
Before the arrest, Owen enjoyed a positive reputation in the school community. “Owen was a finalist for the Golden Halo teacher award, which is given for excellence in the classroom,” reported NBC 2.
Owen’s Facebook page has been deleted. Online records show she also has ties to Tennessee.
4. The School’s Headmaster Asked for Prayers for all Families Involved
According to the News-Press, the school’s headmaster, John Hunte, sent a letter to parents revealing that Owen had been fired from her teaching position.
“We are deeply saddened and express sincere sympathy to any and all victims of sexual assault,” the statement said. “We have and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement during this investigation. ECS was not aware of the report of the incident until late today. I wanted you to be aware of this as I anticipate it will be reported by the news media.”
“Please be in prayer for all of the families involved.”
5. Multiple Female Teachers in the United States Have Ended Up in Trouble With the Law
Female teachers or educational professionals ending up in mugshots has become a too common phenomenon over the past few years.
Dori Myers, a teacher in the Bronx, was accused of having oral sex with a juvenile, charges she denies.
Cassandra White, an English teacher in Oklahoma, is even accused of taking out a marriage license with a teenage boy. Hunter Day, an Oklahoma teacher, was accused of sending nude photos to a student. Among other recent cases: Loryn Barclay, a former substitute teacher at a Missouri High School, was accused of having sexual contact multiple times with a 17-year-old boy. Shawnetta Reece, a gym teacher from Georgia, was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old boy.
Tracy Miller, a West Virginia teacher, was accused of sending nude photos to students. Nataly Lopez, a 27-year-old former substitute teacher at a middle school in New Jersey, was accused of having sexual contact with a student. Lindsey Jarvis, a 27-year-old middle school teacher’s aide, was accused of the rape and sodomy of a student who was under the age of 16. Jarvis was arrested in Fayette County, Kentucky, on June 16. Then there’s Laura Ramos. She is a 31-year-old Connecticut high school teacher who is accused of having sex with a special education student. And there’s Tiffany Geliga.