A former middle school teacher from Florida was arrested after authorities say she engaged in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student for several months.
During the course of the relationship, Stephanie Ferri sent nude photos to the teen and brought him marijuana and pipes to smoke it, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said. The student, an eighth-grader at a middle school in New Smyrna Beach, Florida., just outside of Dayton, told detectives that Ferri used to bring him to her house late at night, when her husband was at work, and drive the teen back home after they’d had sex.
Detectives believe the relationship started in November 2017. The teen said that Ferri warned him not to tell anyone and that his grades suffered after the relationship began.
Ferri, 26, has been charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious battery and one count of transmission of harmful materials to a minor.
Detectives found out about the alleged relationship on Tuesday, after the boy told his parents about it, the sheriff’s office said. According to a charging affidavit, one of the boy’s parents had received a call from a male teacher asking if he could mentor the teen. The parent thought that the call was strange and jokingly asked the teen if the teacher was going to molest him.
“Anyone could molest you,” the teen said, as he began crying.
According to the affidavit, the parent immediately suspected Ferri, saying the boy visited her classroom every day and she often bought him food from McDonald’s. The teen then told his parents that he had been sneaking out around 11 p.m. at night, when Ferri would drive him to her house a few miles away in Edgewater, Fla., to have sex. The affidavit said the two had sex multiple times, including once in her car while parked in her driveway and twice inside a barn at the teen’s house.
Authorities also said Ferri used Snapchat to send the teen nude photos of herself.
Ferri was the boy’s science teacher when he was in seventh grade, but the sexual relationship didn’t begin until later. The boy told detectives that he often skipped classes to hang out in her classroom. At one point, she began talking to the teen about her marriage. Court records show she filed for divorce in February.
The relationship appears to have started through messages on social media. One day, while the boy was hanging out in her classroom, Ferri let him log into his Instagram account on her phone because he didn’t have a smartphone. The boy left his Instagram account open, and Ferri began sending him messages through his own account, the affidavit said.
After the relationship began, the boy said his grades tumbled from As, Bs and a few Cs, to multiple Fs because he often skipped classes to hang out with Ferri.
Ferri began as a substitute teacher for Volusia County Schools in October 2010, spokeswoman Nancy Wait said. The district hired her as a reading teacher in 2013 and then as a science teacher three years later. Wait said Ferri resigned on Monday for “personal reasons.”
Wait said she is not aware of any disciplinary actions involving Ferri, and school officials did not find any criminal history when they conducted a background screening before Ferri was hired.