Report: Duval school district told of teacher's 'inappropriate relationship' in 2009

26-year-old arrested Tuesday on sexual battery charges against boy

Published On: Jul 25 2012 11:32:40 AM EDT   Updated On: Jul 25 2012 11:05:42 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Nearly three years after the Duval County School District was notified by the Department of Children and Families there was a report alleging an inappropriate relationship between an elementary school teacher and a boy, that teacher was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual battery.

Christopher Bacca, 26, was arrested Tuesday on multiple sexual battery and lewd and lascivious conduct charges after investigators said he repeatedly victimized a boy younger than 12.

According to investigative reports released Wednesday by the district, Bacca had a relationship with a boy and his mother. The child was reported to be spending the night at Bacca's home two to three times a week, sleeping in the same bed with Bacca and the boy's mother, according to the report.

In an initial interview with a DCF child protection investigator in October 2009, the boy said he had been sleeping with Bacca but denied any sexual contact, according to the report.

The DCF investigator and a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective agreed at that point that Bacca should be removed from the classroom at Long Branch Elementary School, where he was teaching fourth grade at the time, pending further investigation, according to the report.

Long Branch's principal told investigators Bacca was a "very talented young teacher who had been the school's Teacher of the Year last year," according to the report.

According to the report, when investigators interviewed Bacca in 2009, he was told of the complaint and "almost immediately became emotionally upset and tearful."

"He acknowledged that he had 'a special relationship' with (the boy) and his family," the report reads.

Bacca admitted that the boy and his mother had visited in his home and his mother's home, according to the report. Bacca also admitted that the boy spent the night at his home, but denied any sexual relationship with him, according to the report.

"He became defensive and said that he had no intention of ending his relationship with the child or family," the report reads.

According to the report, Bacca began to speculate about who made the complaint. He accused his former roommate and said that two weeks prior, she broke her lease and moved out. Bacca said that she worked as a child advocate at a local agency, according to the report.

Bacca was told that based on DCF's request, he was being removed from the classroom and assigned to the Consolidated Warehouse.

"He was placed at our Consolidated Services Center, where our mail operations and shipments are," said Jill Johnson, a spokeswoman for Duval County Public Schools.

Bacca's laptop and central processing unit were seized for examination.

A forensic analyst determined the laptop contained no inappropriate material. However, the CPU indicated the child victim had viewed several pornography sites between Aug. 11-13, according to the report. The report says those searches were conducted from Bacca's classroom during a teacher pre-planning period before the school year began.

The DCF investigation continued through the first week of December, and investigators determined that the boy had been on at least one out-of-town trip with Bacca, according to the report. The boy confirmed he spent time alone with Bacca, spending nights with him and sleeping in the same bed, according to the report. The child denied any sexual contact, the report says.

The DCF investigator said the boy's mother was "never completely cooperative," and she believed the mother also allowed her middle-school-aged Exceptional Student Education student to visit Bacca alone.

DCF concluded with a finding of "an indication of some harm to the child -- that the teacher's behavior indicated 'grooming,' which could have resulted in harm to the child," according to the report. DCF recommended that Bacca be assigned to a less vulnerable student population.

"Because there was no evidence of a sexual relationship, no criminal case was filed," the report reads.

After review of witness statements, a verbal warning by the victim, Bacca's statements and his email to the principal, "the statements provide substantial evidence to sustain the charge of the exercise of poor judgment and violation of School Board Policy 6.84, which prohibits fraternization with students," the report's conclusion reads.

The report says Bacca received Step II Progressive Discipline for the offense.

However, school officials said that because there were criminal charges, Bacca was eventually allowed back in the classroom.

Bacca is currently being held in the Duval County jail without bail.

According to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report released Tuesday, the Windy Hill Elementary School teacher showered with a boy more than once while the victim stayed the night at Bacca's home.

The boy told police that Bacca touched his private parts with his hand on more than one occasion, according to the police report.

The boy also told police that Bacca performed oral sex on him more than once, according to the report.

Bacca was Windy Hill's reigning Teacher of the Year. Bacca was also the co-chair of the youth committee at Riverside Presbyterian Church.

"As pastor, my first priority is to my church family, and I am committed to the ministry and mission to which we have been called," W. Stephen Goyer, pastor of Riverside Presbyterian Church, said in a statement. "At this time, we are carefully evaluating the information we have received concerning the allegations brought against Mr. Bacca, and we will be responsive to any questions the investigative team may have. We have no reason to believe that the allegations occurred in or around church-related activities."