Crime

Former third-grade teacher hit with 14 new child molestation charges from students

Christopher Falzone
Christopher Falzone BROWARD SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Ten days after Christopher Falzone was accused of child molestation as a camp counselor, he faces 14 new charges after four kids from Renaissance Charter School in Cooper City accused Falzone of molestation during the 2017-18 school year.

Falzone, who posted $25,000 bond three days after his Aug. 13 arrest, was rearrested Thursday on four counts of lewd and lascivious molestation by an adult on a victim under 12; four counts of lewd and lascivious behavior; and six counts of sexual battery by an adult on a victim under 12. The math teacher remains in jail without bond.

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These aren’t the first young students to accuse Falzone of fondling. Three Sheridan Hills Elementary students did late in the 2012-13 school year, Falzone’s fifth year there as a substitute teacher. Only one child’s parent wished to pursue criminal charges. The Broward State Attorney’s Office didn’t prosecute, believing a conviction unlikely with a rebutting witness and no corroborating witness.

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It’s unclear if Falzone included his employment at Sheridan Hills on his application or if he had it on his LinkedIn page when he was hired at Renaissance Charter in August 2015.

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Each alleged Renaissance Charter victim, now aged 9, spoke with deputies from the Broward Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 14, according to a probable cause affidavit. Each said during some class videos, Falzone would choose her to sit next to him in the back of the class to “assist him in taking notes.” There, each said, Falzone would fondle her while the rest of the class faced forward.

Victim No. 1 said Falzone would put his fingers inside her vagina.

“She advised that it hurt when he would place his fingers in her and that she was scared to say anything to anyone,” the affidavit reads. “Victim advised that the defendant would instruct her not to say anything because he could get into trouble.”

She said Falzone molested her similarly during three-times-a-week private tutoring sessions.

Victim No. 2 said Falzone would put his arm around her “as if he as hugging her and place his hand down her school uniform and in her underwear and touch her butt.”

Victim No. 3 said Falzone would put his hand up her skorts, rub the inside of a thigh, work his way up to what she called her “pick pick.” She said Falzone didn’t go inside her underwear, but pushed it up near the side of her “pick pick.”

Victim No. 4 said Falzone “would ask her if she was okay and she would respond ‘yes,’ because she was afraid to tell him that he made her feel uncomfortable and wanted him to stop. She also advised that she would see him hug other students and go to the rear of the class with them, but did not know if they also felt uncomfortable. The defendant would whisper to her that he loved her and that he would take care of her.”

She also told BSO investigators, “after she discovered that the defendant had been arrested, she decided to tell her mom what had occurred during the previous school year. It should be noted that the defendant wrote a song about the victim and would play it for her in class sometimes.”

The affidavit says Falzone was asked Thursday if the Renaissance Center victims were lying about how he touched them. He refused to talk about anything without an attorney.

Also, Friday, a second Renaissance Charter student filed a $5 million lawsuit against the school, alleging negligence and Title IX education violations. All three lawsuits involving Falzone — the two against Renaissance Charter and the one against Broward County Public Schools from a former Sheridan Hills parent — are being handled by attorney Jeff Herman’s Boca Raton firm, Herman Law.

The suits accuse the school, Principal Jacob Goldberg in particular, of failing to protect the students after hearing the concerns of a “room mother” assigned to Falzone’s class. The mother, whose child is not one of the victims, Herman said, had her child removed from Falzone’s class around Thanksgiving.

In an emailed statement, Renaissance Charter School at Cooper City spokesperson Colleen Reynolds said, “Our highest priority is the safety and security of our students. Every employee goes through a background check before they are hired and are only hired if they receive a clear report. When we were made aware of the allegations and arrest, we took prompt action and terminated the employee. Due to privacy issues, we are not at liberty to discuss any issues regarding students or personnel.”

The statement continued, “We are saddened by someone like Mr. Herman whose background shows that he tries to exploit school districts and charter schools for financial gain. We did not receive the lawsuit until late Thursday afternoon. If this was just about victims, a reasonable attorney would advise the school before making public unsubstantiated allegations against the good works of schools or the good name of a principal.”

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