LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) — The Lakeland Police Department has arrested a Polk County elementary school teacher’s aide for an alleged inappropriate relationship with one of her fifth grade students. She called him “love bug,” according to police and texted the boy often. Then, reports show, she bought “strawberry warming lubricant” in preparation for a sexual encounter with the child.
The 45-year-old woman, Alecia Dotson, is accused of encouraging a romantic relationship with the 11-year-old boy. The child attends Highlands Grove Elementary School in Lakeland. The investigation into Dotson’s alleged relationship with the boy began on June 28th, police tell News Channel 8.
The boy’s mother found disturbing text messages on her son’s phone. Lakeland Police say Dotson sent text messages to the boy asking to pick him up and take him to the library. That’s when the mother quickly called police.
Shortly after, as Lakeland officers were at the boy’s home, detectives say Dotson sent another text. It read, “Love bug what are you doing” and “I’ll be sure to tell her we won’t have sex on the first visit…LOL.”
Dotson told police the relationship evolved from a “mentorship” to a “crush” to a “romantic relationship.” Investigators say they discovered about 100 text messages between the two. Dotson has been charged with two counts of attempted sexual battery, using a computer device to solicit a child, traveling to meet a minor and unlawful use of communications. She has a court appearance on July 2nd.
Dotson has been suspended without pay by Polk Schools Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy. LeRoy plans to recommend Dotson be terminated at the next school board meeting, which is July 28th. According to the school board, Dotson was hired in 2014 and has no disciplinary actions in her file before these charges.
Child advocate and co-founder of the parental app, Mama Bear, Robyn Spoto weighed in on the case. “I have a son who is about to turn 11, and this is extremely disturbing. I applaud the mother for being so proactive,” Spoto said.
She advises parents to check their children’s phones often. “I trust my child. It’s other people I don’t trust. When you give your child the phone, it opens up the whole world.,” Spoto said. She also encourages parents to also keep a close eye on social media accounts.
With two sons of her own, Spoto is well aware of the dangers of technology and children. “My children ask every day for a cell phone, and I always told him, ‘No, it’s just not the right time.’ They are too young,” she said.
In fact, after doing copious research and speaking with many other parents, Spoto helped to cofound the Mama Bear app three years ago to keep kids safe when it comes to social media. Mama Bear is a technology tool that monitors social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. It sends notifications to parents when any posts are made, pictures are posted and their children are tagged. It also flags certain buzzwords of a parents’ choosing. “I can see exactly what my son is doing on social media and who is contacting him,” Spoto said. “You have to keep a close eye on your kids because you just don’t know who’s out there.”