Suzanne Lea Owen, a school teacher in Florida who's a married mother of three, was arrested Wednesday after local police say she engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of her male students at Evangelical Christian School in Fort Myers.
A release from Lee County Sheriff's office alleges that Owen, 35, "had one sexual encounter with the male student one week prior, where the two decided to meet off-campus."
The police investigation showed that Owen was also exchanging text messages with the student for several weeks prior to their sexual encounter. She was charged with Custodial Sexual Battery which is a first-degree felony.
An NBC-2 report said Owen, who taught upper school Bible and Spanish, was a decorated teacher who was once a finalist for the Golden Halo teacher award. Her husband, Jonathan Owen, is a soccer coach at Evangelical Christian School, and their three children are students there, said her attorney, Geraldo Olivo, to the News-Press.
Evangelical Christian School is described as the largest private school in Southwest Florida serving more than 1,100 students from preschool through 12th grade.
"By providing an optimized learning environment, our educators are able to challenge our students with a rigorous academic schedule that encourages critical thinking from a biblical worldview. Key aspects of our comprehensive mission include character development, a Christ-centered college-prep curriculum including AP and honors classes, fine and performing arts, athletics, daily Bible classes and weekly chapel," the school explains on their website.
In a statement released in the wake of Owen's arrest, the school's headmaster, John Hunte, told parents she was fired immediately after the school learned about the incident.
"We are deeply saddened and express sincere sympathy to any and all victims of sexual assault," the statement said. "We have and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement during this investigation. ECS was not aware of the report of the incident until late today. I wanted you to be aware of this as I anticipate it will be reported by the news media. Please be in prayer for all of the families involved."
The News-Press reported that Owen was released from jail Thursday after posting a $50,000 bail. She was also ordered by a judge not to have contact with anyone associated with Evangelical Christian School, including her children's teachers, except for her husband. She must also wear an ankle monitor.
"Mrs. Owen clearly understands the gravity of what the allegations are and everything that's involved with this case," Olivo told the publication after the Christian teacher's bail hearing.
Olivo had requested the court to allow Owen to contact her children's teachers but Judge Tara Paluck denied the request.
"That no contact would apply also to teachers, and if you need information regarding your children, certainly you can contact your husband who can assist you in getting any information that you may need," Paluck told Owen, according to News-Press.
Olivo said Owen's family are still trying to "process" what happened but they remain supportive.