BARTOW, FL (WFLA)– Crossing his arms in front of him, 34-year-old Jason Argo stood before a Polk County judge on Saturday morning as his bond was set at a total of $45,000 for three counts of sexual battery by a custodian on a victim between 12 and 18 years old, along with several other conditions.
“No contact with the alleged victim or their family, no contact with any minor children. He will be on pre-trial release, he will have to report and call in twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday, he will have to post the bond and abide by all the conditions of the bond,” said attorney Jeff Holmes, who was hired to represent Argo for the first appearance.
“…He has been treated for PTSD, because of his service in the United States Military. We will be delving into that and determining if that may indeed be a defense or a possible defense in this case,” said Holmes.
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 High School.
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.
“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.
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