A 30-year-old Florida high school teacher has been arrested for allegedly having sex multiple times with a 15-year-old student and one of those sex romps was inside a closet in the school classroom, police said.
Ariel Madden Reed of Sebring, a critical thinking teacher at Sebring High School, was arrested on Friday and charged with 10 counts of sexual battery upon a victim ages 12 to 18 by a teacher who has the custodial authority of that student, the Highland County Sheriff's Office said in an arrest report obtained by Inside Edition Digital.
Sebring is being held without bond in the Highland County Jail, according to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff’s department said it began investigating the case on Feb. 10 when a school official learned the alleged victim had nude images of Reed on his phone. When the boy was questioned by detectives, he described multiple sexual encounters between himself and Reed that took place at Reed’s home, in her car and in her classroom at the school, officials said. The sexual encounters happened between November 2020 to earlier this month, police said in a statement.
“There is no situation where a 30-year-old having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old is appropriate, but when it is between a teacher and a student, it is even more disturbing,” Scott Dressel, public information officer with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, told Inside Edition Digital. “We trust teachers to protect and educate our children, and any time one of them betrays that trust, it is very disappointing. We take the protection of our children very seriously and will always react swiftly when we learn that one of them is being victimized.”
Reed, who has a master’s degree in human resources, was placed on administrative leave by the School Board.
According to the charging report, the boy alleged that he would spend time with her family riding skateboards because they lived nearby. The boy said the alleged “touching” began sometime around the end of November 2020 or the beginning of December, when Reed drove him to and from school, according to the report.
The alleged victim said that Reed told him she was attracted to him since the first day of school, police say. The alleged victim described the first time they kissed as her stopping the car in the middle of the road and they “made out,” the report said.
One night during Christmas Break the alleged victim said he was sitting on the couch with Reed and no one else was awake and things began to escalate. The pair eventually had sex inside the back of her Ford Explorer, police said.
Another time the alleged victim said that Reed gave him $20 to buy condoms, police said. Officials said the boy said Reed has a child close in age to him. The alleged victim said Reed had sex with him in her oldest son's room, according to the police report.
The boy said after “Christmas Break,” the relationship stopped after the boy told his father about what was happening, according to police. The alleged victim was told to not have any contact with her further by the victim’s father. At that point, he was no longer allowed to go to her house or get rides to and from school with her and the only time he was able to see her was at school, the report stated.
The alleged victim continued to visit her class when she was on a free period, police say. The alleged victim said that Reed began to get more comfortable seeing him at school and they continued their sexual relationship, police said.
The report also said the boy said he was told by Reed not to say anything about their relationship because “they would take her kids” away from her. He also stated that Reed said she loved him and he said it back to her, "to not be mean," according to police.
Sheriff Paul Blackman commended the staff at Sebring High School for taking immediate action, and the Special Victims Unit for working quickly to develop this case, according to release.
“We take any allegations involving children very seriously and are continuing to investigate,” he said.
Superintendent Andrew Lethbridge said that he was “shocked and saddened by these allegations.”
”We are committed to providing a safe learning environment in all Highlands County schools,” Lethbridg said in the release.
Reed has worked for the School Board of Highlands County since 2015. She has worked as office staff at both Woodlawn Elementary School and the district office and was a teacher at Avon Park Middle School before transferring to Sebring High School in 2019, the release said.
Reed’s husband, Jonathan Patrick Reed, 37, was also arrested on Friday. He is charged with interference with the execution of a search warrant, the police said. He was released on a bond. Both have not yet entered pleas.