by: WFTV Web Staff, Melonie Holt Updated:
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A former Brevard County teacher was arrested Wednesday on charges he had sex with a student at Astronaut High School in Titusville, deputies said.
Dodd Anthony Mitchell, 55, of Cocoa had sex with the student between 2014 and 2016, deputies said.
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The investigation into the sexual allegations began last week, and he faces charges of sexual battery of a person under 18 years of age while in custodial authority.
Mitchell decided to rekindle his relationship with the former student and someone close to her encouraged her to call law enforcement, deputies said.
"We're distraught and frustrated as anybody, and certainly our sympathies are with the young woman in this case," said Matt Reed, superintendent with the Brevard County School District.
The former student told investigators the relationship began when she was in ninth grade when it started off as flirtatious then sexting. That escalated to sex at Mitchell's home and elsewhere off-campus, deputies said.
Mitchell resigned last fall after a student and parents, not related to the sexual allegations, came forward and accused the former teacher of inappropriate behavior, comments and drug use, Reed said. The principal alerted law enforcement, the Department of Children and Families and Reed was placed him on leave, officials said.
Mitchell flunked a drug test and resigned, Reed said.
The district released a statement Wednesday afternoon, "Brevard Public Schools won’t stand for any kind of predatory or sexual behavior toward students by its employees.
"When students or parents come forward to report potentially criminal behavior, we act -- including calling the police or sheriff’s office to investigate.
"Today, we are saddened and infuriated to learn of the arrest of a former JROTC instructor at Astronaut High. If the principal or other school staff were aware of the off-campus relationship, they would have acted to stop it and remove the teacher from campus immediately,” Reed said. "We are in the process of automating our systems so that we know about these people, and it's just not the people who technically get arrested and convicted of a crime."
The district plans to make personnel files easily accessible by computer to principals and hiring managers across the county.
"If somebody is not working out as an employee for reasons such as this, we don't want them back. And if there's anybody out there right now who's involved in this kind of behavior, I want them to know to get out. We will catch you, we will report you and you will be arrested," Reed said.
Mitchell, who was a former junior ROTC instructor at the high school, has been ordered by a judge to stay away from anyone under the age of 18.
"There's been a lot of contact he could have had with students. We encourage anyone who was victimized or has information about anyone who may have been a victim of Mr. Mitchell, that they would contact us," said Tod Goodyear with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.
People can call the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit at 321-633-8419 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477 to report information.
Watch below: School district comments on former teacher's arrest:
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