First-grade teacher arrested for sexual battery of 15-year-old male student, sheriff says

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — A first-grade teacher in Osceola County has been arrested and charged with sexually battering a teenage boy, deputies said.

Osceola County sheriff deputies arrested Joel Tapil, 36, after the 15-year-old victim told his father that Tapil forced himself on the teenager.

Tapil is a first-grade teacher at Deerwood Elementary School in Poinciana and was hired by the district as part of an international effort to fill teacher vacancies.


Due to this arrest, Tapil, who was a probationary employee through the International Alliance Group, the superintendent plans to terminate his employment with the district.

According to deputies, Tapil met the victim on the dating website Grindr last Friday.

“Mr. Tapil and the victim met at his residence and Mr. Tapil then began kissing him. The victim told him to stop multiple times, but Mr. Tapil held him down in his bed and continued sexually battering him. The victim told Tapil to get away from him and then he left the residence,” Sheriff Marcos Lopez said.

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Lopez said the boy told his father.

“The father confronted the suspect,” Lopez said. “The suspect begged him not to call the police, which of course he did. Good job.”

Tapil does not have a record, Lopez said, and would not say if Tapil knew the victim was 15 years old when they met.

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“The law says you’ve got to make sure that this kid is at least 18 and up on his application. I’m sorry. So, you know, we can’t sit there and, and pass a judgment on him just because he says, and I didn’t know that this kid wasn’t of age, that doesn’t work under the color of law,” Lopez said.

The sheriff added that parents need to keep tabs on what their children are doing on their phones and computers because they don’t know who is on the other end of some of these apps that their kids are communicating with.

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Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

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