PALMETTO, FL (WWSB) - A Manatee County teacher has been fired after being arrested and charged with soliciting a minor.
Austin Pearce, 28, was arrested Tuesday by St. Petersburg Police on charges of solicitation of a child to engage in sexual battery, possession of material including sexual conduct by a child and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Pearce, who lives in Lake City, was working as the agriculture teacher at Palmetto High School when he was arrested for sending inappropriate messages and images to a minor in Orange County, Florida.
According to the arrest report, the victim was Pearce’s student. When Pearce found out the student is gay, the student says Pearce allowed him to skip class and come to his classroom. Pearce later started working at a different school.
The arrest report details that it was after Pearce started working at a different school, the student says he and Pearce began calling and sending each other messages on social media. The communication was discovered by the victim’s mother.
Pearce was released on bond on Wednesday.