Student reacts to high school teacher and former police officer arrested for inappropriately touching students

Bernard Smith was arrested for inappropriately touching students for several years.
Bernard Smith was arrested for inappropriately touching students for several years.(WCJB)
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 10:13 PM EST
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - A criminal justice teacher at West Port High School and former Ocala Police officer 47-year-old Bernard Smith was arrested.

Jake Peraza is a senior at the school and said Smith was his teacher during his freshman year.

“He was always a solid teacher I remember seeing him around campus administering the halls. He seemed at the time a pretty stand-up guy but obviously.”

Police said students told a school resource officer that Smith fist bumped students’ breasts, touched their thighs and he also called students “baby” and made other inappropriate comments over several years within the school campus.

“I know a lot of people said oh I’m not surprised he was kind of weird or acted that way. I didn’t see that part of him but obviously, I didn’t see him enough but it completely makes sense I know a lot of people have been saying that I know there were also people who were surprised,” said Peraza.

Investigators also said Smith gave a student a long hug after talking to her about her sex life and sent friend requests on social media to students.

He worked for the Ocala Police Department from 2006 to 2008. Police officials said he was fired for being untruthful during an internal affairs investigation.

Peraza gave his thoughts on him being a teacher at the school.

“Even though he got fired after two years it’s like what kind of people are we putting up in those positions especially as a teacher teaching criminal justice.”

Smith is facing four counts of sexual conduct by an authority figure against students.

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