POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – A Polk County high school teacher was arrested on three counts of sexual battery Friday. Jason Argo, 34, is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old female student.
Argo admitted, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s office, that he had sex with the student twice in his classroom at Mulberry High School and once at this house.
He held his down and refused to answer any questions when taken into custody.
“How dare him,” said Juana Mazariegos, the mother of a freshman student at the school. “You’re putting your kids in the hands of people you would trust around your kids and then this is what happens.”
According to an arrest affidavit, Argo’s relationship with the girl started during the 2014-2015 school year when he was the English teacher at Mulberry. The victim told detectives Argo was a well-liked teacher and it was common for his students to leave him sticky notes on his desk with personal messages.
She said she left him her phone number on the sticky note as a joke because she knew he had been investigated for talking to a student on social media before, deputies said. Soon after, the girl allegedly received a text message from an unknown number and tried to get the sender to reveal himself. The sender wouldn’t do it but told her she’d see him later in the day and he’d “throw up deuces.”
At the end of the class later that day, the victim was walking out of Argo’s classroom when he yelled out her name. She turned around and saw him holding up two fingers, “signaling deuces.”
They started sending each other sexual messages, according to the arrest affidavit, and eventually she would go into his room and he would touch and kiss her. On two separate occasions she performed oral sex on him, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Once when the victim was at Argo’s house, detectives said, the teacher was packing boxes. He told the girl, according to the affidavit, he was moving and his wife wasn’t home. That’s when Argo and the victim had sexual intercourse, according to detectives. It was his birthday.
After that, they went several weeks without talking to each other because he said he was afraid of getting caught, according to the affidavit.
Detectives recorded a phone call between the girl and Argo when he admitted he missed “doing stuff” with her. The girl said she thought they should have sex again and he replied it would be kind of cool.
When detectives came to arrest Argo he confessed to receiving oral sex from the girl and to having sex with her. He said he was a former Marine suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder and had begun drinking to help cope with his pain, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. That’s why he was “weak” and committed sexual misconduct, he apparently told deputies.
Angel Mazariegos, 16 years old, told News Channel 8 Argo was considered a teacher students could trust.
“He was a good teacher,” Angel said. “Everybody liked him.”
But now, Angel said, that trust has been broken. “He should face the consequences of what he’s done,” she said.
Epiphany Foster said she had Argo as an English teacher. She said she just hopes for the best.
“I didn’t want to believe it all,” Foster told News Channel 8. “I seen it on Facebook and I was like, ‘I couldn’t believe that. He’s my mentor, my favorite teacher out of all teachers.”
“We are always disgusted and appalled when anyone in a position of authority over a child uses that authority to groom and sexually abuse a child. Jason Argo also brags that he is a military veteran, which to me is even more reason to be disgusted and appalled by his behavior,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Argo is now on paid administrative leave and the Polk County superintendent is expected to terminate him at a school board meeting later this month.
Argo is charged with three counts of sexual battery by a custodian on a victim between 12 and 18 years old.
In December 2015, video of Argo singing the “Marines’ Hymn” to his newborn daughter went viral. He is married with three children.