South View teacher, coach suspended after SnapChat allegation
Posted November 19, 2018 6:08 p.m. EST
Updated November 22, 2018 10:34 p.m. EST
Hope Mills, N.C. — A South View teacher and assistant soccer coach is out of the classroom while school leaders and law enforcement look into a claim that he sent inappropriate photos and texts to a 16-year-old.
Dmitri Pelaez, social studies teacher and assistant coach of the girls soccer team, was suspended with pay, after the allegations surfaced, a Cumberland County Schools spokeswoman said.
Pelaez was in his first year with the school. He was hired on Aug. 13, a school spokeswoman said.
The father of the victim said Pelaez had been in contact with his daughter for months, but that he only became aware of it on Friday. He alerted the school, which brought in law enforcement.
In a statement, Lindsay A. Whitley, chief executive community engagement & communications officer for Cumberland County Schools said:
We take this matter very seriously, and school officials are cooperating with law enforcement officials as they investigate these allegations. As always, our top priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff.
In any situation in which there are allegations of inappropriate relations involving a staff member and student, we immediately notify the sheriff’s office and allow them to take the lead in any resulting investigation.
The father of the victim said Pelaez had a reputation for flirting with the female students. "My daughter has explained to me that ... even girls as young as 13 who are freshmen, that he would flirt with them and that he would rub up against them."
He says Pelaez even sent his daughter a picture of his genitals over SnapChat, and he worries that there may be more victims.
"You worry about sending your kid to school," he said. "You think when you drop them off that they're going to be protected, but obviously that's not the case."
This is the second time in two years that a South View coach has been accused of inappropriate sexual contact with a student. In March of 2017, 27-year-old Aaron Holmes was arrested and charged with having sex with a student. He pleaded guilty and is now a registered sex offender.
The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is aware of the allegation, but no charges have been filed against Pelaez. The sheriff's office plans to talk to the victim next month.