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ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) - A Hardin County teacher has been fired after being accused of sexually abusing a teenager. Edwin Bonet-Ruiz was arrested Monday after Elizabethtown police say he admitted to "hugging and kissing" a 14-year-old student in his Spanish class.
School authorities said the alleged incident happened in a classroom Thursday at Central Hardin High School. There was no school Friday because of snow, but on Monday, the 14-year old student told a school resource officer about the incident.
That set off investigations from both police and school district officials, John Wright, a school district spokesman, told WDRB News.
An arrest citation states the girl told authorities Bonet-Ruiz put his tongue in her mouth and touched her in a sexual way. Police say Bonet-Ruiz also set up a fake Facebook account to communicate with the child online, said Tim Cleary with Elizabethtown Police.
The 54-year-old Bonet-Ruiz began teaching at Central Hardin High School in 2000.
John Wright, Hardin County Schools spokesman, said Tuesday: "We're obviously surprised when any student or anyone comes forward with a compliant against a faculty or staff member. We're saddened by it. We're shocked by it."
Bonet charged with first degree sexual abuse and unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor in sexual or prohibited acts. WDRB News has been told he found out about his firing while in jail. A jail official said Bonet-Ruiz bonded out of jail Tuesday afternoon. A woman who answered the phone at an address listed for Edwin Bonet hung up when a reporter identified himself and asked for comment.
"I think it's ridiculous to be honest. That's like rule book. That shouldn't happen," said Dylan Wallen, a freshman at Central Hardin High School.
Wallen said that neither students nor parents had been made aware of the situation. Wallen said he had only heard "rumors" that a Spanish teacher was involved in something inappropriate.
As school officials and Elizabethtown police began their separate investigations Monday, Bonet-Ruiz was arrested at the high school and placed on paid leave.
But by Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Nannette Johnston said: "The investigation is complete and its findings have led to the dismissal of Mr. Bonet Ruiz."
Johnston confirmed that Bonet-Ruiz was notified at the jail that he was fired. Earlier in the day, Bonet-Ruiz made his initial appearance in court where a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf to charges of sexual abuse and unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in a sexual or prohibited activities.
When pressed by reporters about why Bonet-Ruiz was fired just a day after being arrested, Johnston said: "Because of the police report, the statements made in the police report, we believe we need to send a strong message in any actions that we take. And we have sent that message."
WDRB News has also learned that Bonet-Ruiz is a pastor at Abundant Life Church in Radcliff. A church elder confirmed the news in an email to the news station.
When asked whether there was reason to believe Bonet-Ruiz and the student had sexual intercourse, Tim Cleary of the Elizabethtown Police Dept. said, "The only thing we know for a fact is the sexual abuse is relating to the hugging and the kissing, and that's as far as we believe that it's gone."
Bonet-Ruiz declined interview requests from WDRB News. Central Hardin High School will send a letter informing parents about the arrest on Wednesday.
Cleary adds, "This is an ongoing investigation, but there's nothing leading us to believe that there's any other students that might be impacted by this incident."
A letter will be sent home to parents Wednesday. School officials said parents couldn't have been notified sooner because Bonet-Ruiz wasn't fired until Tuesday.
Below is a copy of the text that will go to parents from the Central Hardin Principal:
We would like to share with you the facts concerning an incident regarding a Central Hardin High School faculty member. Hardin County Schools has terminated the contract of Central Hardin High School teacher Edwin Bonet-Ruiz after an investigation by the district and the Elizabethtown Police Department.
Mr. Bonet-Ruiz, a Spanish teacher at Central Hardin High School, received a letter of termination late Tuesday afternoon.
The Elizabethtown Police Department arrested and charged Mr. Bonet-Ruiz early Monday evening. He received a letter notifying him that he was suspended with pay during the HCS investigation. Hardin County Schools' investigation is complete and its findings led to Mr. Bonet-Ruiz's dismissal. An investigation is still open by the Elizabethtown Police Department.
We maintain that integrity and student safety remain a priority at Central Hardin High School. Any threat to either of these will be taken very seriously.
If you have questions, please contact me at 270-737-6800.