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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — A teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas High School is accused of touching a 15-year-old student in a lewd manner.
Patrick Fox O’Dea, 64, is accused of touching of touching and rubbing the side of the girl’s breast over her clothing.
It reportedly happened on at the school during school hours. The teen was speaking to another student when Odea grabbed her by the left arm and “began rubbing his fingers alongside the victim’s clothing and her left breast, according to his arrest report.
O’Dea told CBS4 when he was released fro jail that he is innocent and in his 26 years teaching at the school has never been accused of anything.
“I’m proud of what i did at St. Thomas Aquinas,” said O’Dea, “Why would I do anything to jeapordize my career and put myself in this ordeal that I’ve endured since September 11.”
At that time he was placed on administrative leave. He was fired three weeks ago.
O’Dea said he wanted to retire soon but loved teaching too much. Now, his career might be over and not in the way he had hoped.
Archdiocese of Miami Spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said in a statement, “An allegation by a student at St. Thomas Aquinas was brought against Mr. Patrick O’Dea of inappropriate touching. Following the Archdiocese of Miami’s “Safe Environment Policy” law enforcement was notified. Mr. Odea was immediately placed on administrative leave and he has now been dismissed from employment.”
Students said O’Dea was a popular teacher and very well liked. Many are not sure what to believe.
“It’s just upsetting it happened to us and in the Catholic environment because he was a theology teacher, you would expect him to be one of the best to promote the Catholic faith,” said a student.
“He was a great teacher, we learned a lot from him. He was a nice dude and we liked him a lot. It was really sad to see him leave,” said another.
O’Dea said the class was in the afternoon with more than 20 students present.
“Would I if I had any intent, with so many witnesses?” Plead O’Dea. “I teach respect for human beings, for God, and respect for the law.’
O’Dea said he has tapped on students’ shoulders before to get their attention, but isn’t sure why the student who accused him would say he inappropriately touched her. He said he has heard that the same student has accused another teacher of something similar at a different school.
On January 11th, a warrant was issued for O’Dea’s arrest.
He was taken into custody on Monday at his apartment and charged with one count of lewd/lascivious molestation of a person under the age of 16.
O’Dea said he was shocked that he was arrested.
“Right now I want to clear my good name,” said O’Dea. “An accusation is ten times larger than denial. Sadly, in some people’s mind it’s guilty until proven innocent. I did nothing wrong [and I will stand by that] until the day I die.”