Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested a school janitor for lewd conduct on Tuesday.
Jose Baez-Ortiz, 49, of Davenport was arrested for inappropriately touching a 6-year-old girl at Davenport School of the Arts, where he works as a janitor.
According to an affidavit, Baez-Ortiz approached the victim as she was eating lunch in the school cafeteria, sat next to her and placed his hand up her skirt on Monday.
A lunch room aid who witnessed the incident became suspicious and reported it immediately.
The next day, detectives conducted an interview with Baez-Ortiz at his residence. He told detectives he knew he was accused of inappropriate behavior with a student, but denied touching any student. He then claimed he accidentally touched the victim's leg while trying to stand up.
Baez-Ortiz later told detectives he thought the victim was beautiful and "wanted to touch her like a woman." He added that he was having trouble dealing with an ill family member and wanted to touch the victim to make himself feel better.
According to the affidavit, Baez-Ortiz finally admitted he did place his hand up the victim's skirt and said he "knew it was wrong to touch the victim."
Baez-Ortiz was arrested for lewd conduct and booked into the Polk County Jail.
Following the arrest, parents were given the following automated phone call:
Dear parents and family members,
This message is being sent on behalf of Davenport School of the Arts. We want to notify you that one of our custodial employees, Jose Baez-Ortiz, was arrested today by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on allegations of inappropriate touching of a student. We have notified the proper authorities and are cooperating fully with the Sheriff’s Office as they continue their investigation. If you have any information to report, please contact Lieutenant Ian Rylott at 863-298-6327. We take these allegations very seriously and will work to ensure the safety of our students. Thank you.