TAMPA — Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a report that two students engaged in a sex act at an Armwood High school restroom while other students snapped mobile photos and later posted them on social media sites.
The incident came to the attention of the Hillsborough sheriff’s office after a student alerted the Armwood resource deputy. The deputy walked into the bathroom and found a 15-year-old girl engaging in sex with one boy while in the presence of other boys.
It appeared the sex was consensual, sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.
Just as news of the incident spread on campus, students began posting images and comments on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
One image shows what appears to be a teen with short hair and capri-length pants kneeling inside a restroom stall behind a half-closed door with another person’s hand palm-down on top her head.
“I heard students talking about it, then I went on Facebook and saw a bunch of pictures of it,” said Armwood valedictorian Florencia Real, who graduated Tuesday. “It was reported by students, but there were a few who were bystanders. Kids were taking pictures, which I think is ridiculous.”
District and school officials are waiting to see what the investigation turns up before considering any disciplinary action in the case.
Friday is the last day of school before summer break. Armwood seniors finished their school work May 19.
“If they’re facing criminal charges, it’s one thing,” said school district spokesman Stephen Hegarty. “Otherwise, it will be in our hands. I hope we can wrap up the investigation sometime soon and decide what kind of action, if any, we need to take.”
Detectives are interviewing students who might have been involved in the incident and will be working with the State Attorney’s Office.
School officials informed students that an investigation is under way. Parents were alerted through the school district’s Parent Link messaging system. Parents also have been notified if their student is being interviewed by deputies, Hegarty said.
Armwood High School, on U.S. 92 in Seffner, has an enrollment of about 1,700 students and earned a C grade from the Florida Department of Education in 2013. A perennial football powerhouse, Armwood has won two state titles in the sport, in 2003 and 2004, and had a third title stripped in 2011 for fielding ineligible players.
Senior Makaya Kruger said she wasn’t surprised to hear about the incident in the bathroom, adding, “some of the kids at Armwood have no class or self-respect.”
Valedictorian Real, who doesn’t know which students were involved, said she was shocked by the behavior and has never heard of anything like it in her four years at the school.
“It’s disappointing because those students are the ones who make the school look bad,” Real said. “I don’t think that incident at all reflects the student body as a whole.”