Osceola County first-grade teacher arrested on sexual battery charge

Joel Velasco Tapil, 36, arrested at his home

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – A teacher at an Osceola County elementary school faces charges of sexual battery on a minor, according to a news release.

Deputies said they started an investigation Friday in reference to the sexual battery of a 15-year-old boy.

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During the investigation, deputies said they learned the suspect is a first-grade teacher at Deerwood Elementary School where he has worked since September 2022.

Deputies said the boy’s father spoke to detectives about his son being sexually battered by a man he met on the dating app Grindr.

According to Sheriff Marcos Lopez, who spoke at a news conference on Monday, the teacher – was identified as 36-year-old Joel Velasco Tapil. The father told investigators that his son had been in Tapil’s home, and while at the home, Tapil sexually battered the boy.

The father confronted the suspect, and Tapil begged the father not to call police, Lopez said.

“I just want to say something to the parents. There’s a lot of dating apps out there, there’s a lot of video game rooms where kids are playing together and partaking with people who they really don’t know. It’s your responsibility as a parent to start monitoring these social media platforms,” Sheriff Lopez said.

Deputies said Tapil was in the U.S. on a J-1 Visa, a program “for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs,” according to the State Department.

In January, Osceola County announce that is would be hiring teachers from abroad to help with their teacher shortage.

Deputies arrested Tapil at his home on a warrant for sexual battery and he is currently being held at the Osceola County Jail without bond.

In a short release, a spokesperson from the Osceola County School District said Tapil is a probationary employee and the Superintendent “will be moving to separate him from employment with the district.”

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About the Author:

Jacob joined ClickOrlando.com in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.