BROWARD (CBSMiami) – A Broward County teacher is facing elderly exploitation charges after investigators say she ripped off an 85-year-old woman.
The victim told CBS4 News that she met 59-year-old Catherine Champon at their church several years ago and had no idea her trusted friend was stealing from her.
“It’s heart rending because I mean she was somebody in the church who did so much,” the victim told CBS 4 News, without showing her face. “We had so much in common.”
Champon is a first grade teacher at Village Elementary School in Sunrise, and had been with the Broward School District for 15 years. She was not teaching on Friday morning, but parents dropping children off for class say they are stunned.
“That’s terrible, that’s ridiculous,” said parent Tonya Lane.
Champon refused to answer our questions as she left the North Broward Jail on Thursday night after posting bond. Champon is facing elderly exploitation charges after The Broward Sheriff’s Office says she used the victim’s debit card to put a down payment on a car, buy 2 wedding dresses and pay off her suspended driver’s license fee.
“Ma’am you’re a teacher,” CBS4’s Carey Codd asked Champon. “What kind of message are you sending to the children of this community?”
Champon had no response.
“She’s supposed to be a role model and of course the kids can’t look up to her,” said neighbor Michael Spencer.
The victim said she thought Champon was a
good friend and fellow Christian and believed she was trustworthy because taught children.
“She’s teaching children so she must have a good heart,” the victim said.
Investigators say she stole more than 6-thousand dollars from the victim. BSO says Champon told them that some of the charges were done with the victim’s permission and others were not. The arrest report says Champon admitted that she is a full time teacher who earns a regular paycheck so “she could justify why she would take the victim’s money instead of using her own.”
The victim says there’s a lesson for everyone in her loss.
“Don’t get so trusting that you give up everything and you think you have a nice friend,” the victim said. “Don’t be trusting.”
The Broward County School District says Champon has been teaching in Broward since 1999. As for her status with the district, we’re told that will depend on the outcome of the criminal charges.