Florida high school coach told girl to go into bathroom, take photos of herself, sheriff says
CELEBRATION, Fla. - A Celebration High School employee in Osceola County is being accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with teenage girls. The incidents reportedly happened on school property.
Samuel Figueroa, 43, was arrested on multiple charges including lewd and lascivious molestation, sexual performance by a child, and offenses against students by an authority figure, Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez told reporters during a news conference Thursday morning.
According to Osceola County Schools, Figueroa was a full-time student services employee. He was also an assistant coach for the baseball and girls' basketball team.
Lopez said that over the past few months, several students came forward describing their individual encounters with Figueroa.
In one case, investigators said he instructed a student to go into the girl's bathroom to take and send him inappropriate photos of herself. In other incidents, Figueroa reportedly made vulgar and sexual remarks about students' physical appearance, and at least two students said he touched them in a sexual way.
"Further investigation and interviews yielded several other female juvenile victims, ages ranging from 15 to 18 years of age, who also attend Celebration High School," officials said in a news release.
"He has abused his power. He's abused his position and is a sexual deviant who was lurking in our schools. Thanks to the brave students for coming forward and exposing this guy for the monster that he is," Lopez said.
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Osceola County Schools said Figueroa joined Celebration High School in August of 2018. The school district did not say if they have reports of any previous allegations made against Figueroa.
"The first time it had ever been mentioned to me was when we got a notification that Police had made an arrest or were about to make an arrest," said District 3 School Board Member Jon Arguello.
Figueroa stepped down from his position on March 27 shortly after the allegations came to light. "It’s a shame and stuff like that should never happen in this world," said Mario Gonnella, a parent of a student at Celebration High School.
A parent had contacted the sheriff’s office in late March on behalf of their daughter, sparking the investigation. Deputies are looking into how long this kind of alleged conduct was going on.
Deputies believe there could be more victims and said additional charges are forthcoming.
Anyone who may have had an encounter with Figueroa that made them feel uncomfortable is asked to contact the sheriff's office.