MIAMI — A South Florida high school math teacher is accused of child pornography, telling his victim at one point to send him nude photos “by order of King Paul,” according to an arrest report.
Paul Urquiza, 32, who taught at Miami Beach Senior High School, was arrested Wednesday and charged with possession of images of sexual performance by a child, computer services certain uses prohibited by a child, electronic transmission harmful to minors, and unlawful use of a communications device, according to Miami-Dade County online booking records.
According to an arrest affidavit, Miami-Dade police opened an investigation in September 2021 when Interpol received a tip about a person who was communicating inappropriately with a 16-year-old juvenile in Hampshire, England, WTVJ reported.
Urquiza connected with the girl on Reddit after she commented about a photograph of his cat, WPLG-TV reported. About a week later Urquiza allegedly told the girl he loved her. The minor told police that Urquiza helped her with her homework and read “Harry Potter” novels to her. They continued their messaging through Facebook, Instagram and via email, the affidavit stated.
The affidavit states that the exchanges between Urquiza and the victim became more inappropriate, WSVN-TV reported.
Police said that Urquiza offered to fly the girl to Miami or Spain so they could meet. The victim’s family became aware of the relationship when the girl accidentally sent a sexually explicit photo to her mother on July 23, 2021, WPLG reported.
The victim’s mother took the girl’s phone and reported the incident to police in Hampshire, according to the television station.
During the investigation, police uncovered several text exchanges between Urquiza and the victim.
In a May 14, 2021, message, Urquiza allegedly sent a photo with a filter of his image, wearing a crown and a beard and urging the victim to “send nudes by order of King Paul,” the affidavit stated.
Interpol referred the case to the Miami-Dade Police Department last year, WPLG reported. Detectives had a search warrant when they arrived at his apartment shortly after 5:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday.
At the police station, Urquiza confessed, officials said.
“I probably should have stopped,” Urquiza said, according to the affidavit.
Urquiza was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami. He posted $22,500 bail on Wednesday night, WSVN reported.
“As a father, I am devastated for the involved child. Schools are supposed to be a safe haven for our children, and as parents, we entrust our educators with their safety,” Miami-Dade Police Director George Perez said in a statement. “I’m appalled that this educator has stained the good work of so many excellent educators. There is no room in society for child pornography and we will continue to educate our youth on the dangers surrounding them. I am very proud and grateful to all the investigators that worked so diligently on this case.”
“These allegations are disturbing and understandably upsetting; we will fully cooperate with partner law enforcement agencies in the investigation of this case,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools officials said in a statement. “Miami-Dade County Public Schools is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty and staff. The district has initiated employment termination proceedings and (Urquiza) will be precluded from seeking future employment with this district.”
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