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Fort Lauderdale Catholic School Teacher Accused of Fondling Student

Patrick O'dea, a teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, was arrested Monday on a charge of lewd and lascivious behavior

A teacher at a Fort Lauderdale Catholic school was arrested for allegedly inappropriately touching one of his students.

Patrick O'dea, a teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, was arrested Monday on a charge of lewd and lascivious behavior with a victim between 12 and 16, according to an arrest report.

The alleged incident happened in O'dea's classroom at the school back in September, the report said. The 15-year-old girl said she was speaking with another student when O'dea grabbed her by her left arm and started rubbing his fingers alongside her clothing and her left breast, the report said.

"The victim never gave the defendant permission to touch her in any manner and felt violated by the defendant," the report said.

O'dea, 64, was held in jail on $50,000 bond. Attorney information wasn't available.

“An accusation is 10 times louder than a denial. Sadly in some people’s minds, you are guilty until you are proven innocent," he told reporters after bailing out of jail Tuesday night. “I teach theology, I teach respect for human beings. I teach respect for God and the law. Why would I do anything to jeopardize my career and put myself through this ordeal?”

“This is in a classroom of students," he said. "It was at 1:40 p.m. with 25 students present. Would I, if I had any even intent ... attempt anything like that? With so many witnesses ... I’d be crazy to do that.”

O'dea told reporters he believes the student misinterpreted the situation and believes she fabricated the story for unknown reasons.

“Sometimes I’lll talk to a student just to get their attention like that, and that’s the problem I'm in right now," he said. "She said that I did much more than that ... but I have a habit because I’m kind of affectionate and warm and friendly of doing stuff like that ... I didn’t see anything inappropriate or wrong about it.”

The Archdiocese of Miami released a statement Tuesday saying O'dea was placed on administrative leave and then dismissed.

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