TAMPA, Fla. - A Tampa Police school resource officer is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl. Assigned to Blake High School, officer Brian Morales, 36, was fired and arrested Thursday.
At a news conference, Chief Jane Castor said the 17-year-old was a student at the school.
"I can't believe it," said Rodisir Urquco, a neighbor.
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Chief Castor said the girl's mother found out about the inappropriate relationship Wednesday and alerted school administrators who contacted police.
The relationship started in late October, according to Castor, and ended this past week.
Police say the sexual encounters happened off campus, sometimes at the victim's home, sometimes at Morales' house, and other times in Morales' personal car.
"He certainly doesn't deserve to wear the Tampa Police Department uniform," said Castor.
Chief Castor said Officer Morales threatened to harm himself if the situation was made public, so he was Baker Acted, then arrested, charged with eight felony counts for having sex with a minor.
He refused to cooperate, said Chief Castor.
Chief Castor called the situation "disgraceful."
Neighbors told ABC Action News that Morales shares his Tampa home with his two children and wife, who neighbors say is also a police officer.
She declined comment when ABC Action News tried speaking with her.
SCHOOL DISTRICT LEADERS 'DISAPPOINTED'
School district leaders sent out an automated call tonight informing them of Morales' arrest.
"Whenever something like this happens with someone who is trusted and a major part of the school community, it's very disappointing," said Steve Hegarty, spokesperson for Hillsborough County Schools.
Hegarty told ABC Action News the teen's mother called school officials to report the alleged sexual relationship.
Immediately, according to Hegarty, district leaders called police. Within hours, an investigation was opened and Morales was arrested less than a day later.
A new supervisor is now taking over the duties of school resource officer at Blake High School.
Chief Castor said officers must apply to become a resource officer. There are only 24 resource officer in the entire school district.
She added what qualifications and attributes they look for when assigning police officers to those positions.
"Clearly their background, their experience with the police department, to ensure they don't have any disciplinary issues or any kind of issues that would indicate a level of maturity of being unable to handle the position of school resource officer."
They also must have an interest in working with kids, Castor added.
Morales had been with the department for seven years. Castor said she was not aware of any other issues arising during the time he was employed.
She added that parents can still trust their school resource officers and discussed how she meets with them monthly.
PARENTS REACT TO ARREST
Parents arriving on campus to attend a concert expressed concern over the arrest.
Mary Basquez has a daughter in 10th grade and planned to have a discussion with her daughter following the concert.
"We are going to have to talk to her," said Basquez. "Find out what she knows about it, if she knows the guy, I don't know," she said.
She added that she is worried to let her daughter return to school.
Dominique Blake said his instincts to be a protective brother kicked in when he learned the news. The 20-year-old's sister is also sophomore."Not really proud of it that, it is pretty messed up," said Blake.
Blake also intends to talk with his sister.
"I am a little bit worried. Can't trust the officers around here now," Blake added.