Former Orlando Christian high school teacher accused of sexually abusing student

ORLANDO, Fla. — A woman who formerly worked as a high school science teacher at a highly regarded Christian school in Orlando was arrested last month after allegations that she sexually abused a female student.

Harriet Sugg was accused of grooming the student, identified in a related lawsuit as Jane Doe, since the student began attending The First Academy in 2014 until well after Sugg was terminated in 2016.


An arrest affidavit published Monday revealed Sugg and the student became close when Sugg disclosed she was the victim of sexual abuse as a child and gave a speech to students about overcoming same-sex attraction.

The affidavit said Sugg and Doe became closer and closer, with Doe spending nights at Sugg’s apartment and going on outings with her. Eventually, Doe lived with Sugg and her then-husband for a month, cuddled with her, and traveled out of state to meet Sugg’s family.

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The affidavit also said Sugg supplied alcohol and tobacco to Doe on occasion.

By late 2015, the affidavit said Sugg was becoming increasingly intimate and physical with Doe, and began performing sexual acts on her in January 2016. The document said Sugg continued to insist there was nothing inappropriate about their relationship as abuse continued in the closet of Sugg’s classroom during school hours, motels and in Sugg’s apartment, with her husband finding them locked in the bedroom at least one time.

Sugg also excused Doe from classes 30 times, the report said.

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Around that time, Sugg began to be called in to the administrative office of The First Academy, the affidavit reported. School leaders questioned the relationship and Sugg was told she would be fired at the end of the school year.

Detectives said school leaders implemented a no-contact order until then, which Sugg ignored and continued assaulting Doe.

They said Sugg continued her relationship with Doe until a year after Doe turned 18. They said their investigation began when Doe came forward to an Ocoee police officer in 2022, and they had uncovered love letters from Sugg dated before Doe’s 18th birthday.

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The lawsuit filed by Doe against Sugg, the school and First Baptist Orlando said administrators ignored warnings from students and Sugg’s husband and allowed the relationship to continue.

“The allegations here involve sexual acts between the teacher and our client in the classroom and other areas on campus,” Doe’s attorney, Andrea Lewis, said. “When should that ever happen? Never.”

In a statement to community members, church and school leaders said they were saddened by the claims.

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“Our top priority has been and will continue to be a nurturing and Christ-centered environment where students can grow academically, emotionally, and spiritually. We understand that trust in our institution has been shaken by these allegations, and we want to acknowledge the pain and concern this has caused in our community,” the statement said. “First Baptist Orlando and The First Academy do not tolerate any form of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. Nothing is more important than protecting the safety and well-being of our students.”

According to Sugg’s Facebook page, which has since been made private, she eventually got a job with NorthBay Christian Academy in Clearwater, where she stayed for four years.

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It’s not clear if the school was aware of the circumstances of Sugg’s departure from The First Academy or whether any complaints surfaced about her during her tenure there. The school did not return a request for comment Monday.

Neither Sugg nor her attorney responded to messages left with them, respectively.

It’s not clear if police are actively looking to see if she had additional victims. The arrest report mentioned exchange students living with Sugg and her husband and that she may have had contact with children up to her arrest in October.

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