CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. (Charlotte Sun) - The former director of education at group foster home and school in East Charlotte County has been fired after being arrested and charged with having sex with a student who ran away from the home, police say.
Reeghan Burgess, 30, allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old student at least 15 times.
Burgess worked for Crossroads Hope Academy, a nonprofit home and school for boys who have had multiple failed placements in Florida’s foster care system.
Witnesses told Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office deputies they saw a sexual encounter between Burgess and the student while Burgess was driving students back to school after a field trip to the beach Nov. 26, according to the arrest report.
Burgess was fired Nov. 30. In January of this year, the teenager disappeared from Crossroads Hope Academy, authorities said. The boy said he ran away and went to live with Burgess while authorities searched for him.
Burgess was arrested April 16 and admitted that she bought the boy dinner and helped him buy essential items for living after he ran away from the boarding school. She told deputies that she didn’t notify law enforcement because she was scared.
At the end of the interview with deputies, Burgess left a note in the interview room that said the boy was at her house. Deputies conducted a search warrant on Burgess’ house in Port Charlotte and found the teenager there.
The boy told deputies that he had been living at Burgess’ house and in the shed behind her house since he ran away from school.
The boy said that he and Burgess had sex on at least 15 occasions, according to the arrest report.
Burgess was arrested Friday on multiple charges: authority figure soliciting sex with student, interference with custody of a minor and six counts of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.
She is being held at the Charlotte County Jail on $1 million bond.
Crossroads Hope Academy Executive John Davidson issued a statement on Saturday that said the school called the child abuse hotline as soon as concerns were brought forward from staff. “In the eight years we have operated as a foster home, this is the first time we have faced these issues,” the statement read in part. “We are shocked and saddened by the allegations and will cooperate with authorities, and we will continue to put the safety and well-being of our kids first.”