Parents: Chappell Schools knew about teacher's sexual misconduct and covered it up

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Anthony Guadalupe, the former preschool teacher charged with molesting a 4-year-old girl in St. Johns County, was a repeat offender, a lawsuit filed by other school parents alleges.

The complaint, filed Tuesday, contends that Guadalupe, 18, who was arrested July 19, engaged in sexual misconduct with at least nine other children attending the Chappell Schools between February and July 2022. The private early education center's St. Johns County campus is located on Longleaf Pine Parkway.

The Department of Children and Families contacted the St. Johns County Sherriff's Office July 18 after the female student told a parent Guadalupe touched her inappropriately.

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According to the sheriff's office incident report, classroom surveillance video showed the then-assistant teacher repeatedly touching the girl in the area of her buttocks and pulling up her dress.

According to the lawsuit, administrators were aware of Guadalupe's behavior prior to the incident that eventually led to his arrest.

“During Guadalupe’s employment and at all times material, he on numerous occasions sexually battered the victims, masturbated in front of them, touched their … genitals, and/or made them watch as he sexually battered other victims," it says.

According to First Coast News, the Record's media partner, Melanie Williams, CEO of Chappell Schools, informed parents by email immediately after the arrest. Williams also said the school has turned over a hard drive with video footage from the classroom.

"At Chappell Schools, our top priority is the safety and well-being of the children in our care, which has been the case for more than 60 years," the email read.

First Coast News said the school has responded to the lawsuit with a statement that said, in part: "The gross allegation that Chappell covered up anything, or attempted to cover up anything, is false and offensive."

Guadalupe has been charged with one count of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor, a felony, but has not been formally arraigned yet. He has been denied bail and is being held at the St. Johns County Jail.

This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: Chappell Schools lawsuit: Parents allege school knew about teacher abuse