FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. (TodayNews) — Pembroke Pines Police have arrested a man after he allegedly behaved inappropriately after being hired to photograph high school students at Flanagan High School.
A suspect named Ayo Tegenus is accused of sending inappropriate messages to one of the students, resulting in charges being filed against him.
The suspect appeared in court on Thursday.
“I find probable grounds for this charge,” the judge said.
A few hours later, 7News cameras filmed Tegenus after he was released from prison. He covered his face with clothes and refused to comment on his accusation.
“I beg you don’t… I don’t want to do this right now, bro. I just spent four days in jail bro. I don’t want to talk to you now,” he said.
According to the arrest statement, in February 2020, Tegenus, then 28, was a photographer at Nick’s photography studio, hired by Flanagan High School to take photos of high school students. However, his professional duties took a disturbing turn when he allegedly fell in love with one of the students he photographed.
“He took advantage of his job as a photographer at this particular high school to obtain and use information about a student to contact and question him,” Assistant State Attorney Eric Linder said.
Pembroke Pines captain Christian Rogers later told reporters about the incident.
“He ended up getting the victim’s cell phone number and texting her on the side, ‘Hey, would you like to see your graduation photos?'” Rogers said.
The affidavit states that Thegenus accessed the school’s database to obtain a student’s phone number, subsequently initiating a communication that quickly became inappropriate.
The accused photographer sent the student a photo of her senior cap and dress about 30 minutes after he took the picture, accompanied by the caption “goddess”. The student just responded with a “Thank you” text.
After the student ignored more of his text messages, the exchange took an even more unsettling turn when Tegenus allegedly sent a photograph of himself in clothes to the victim.
But Rogers said the suspect didn’t stop there.
“And then followed by an obscene photograph of a man,” he said.
Detectives said the obscene image was actually a video showing male genitalia.
Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the student promptly reported the incident to the relevant authorities, prompting a thorough police investigation.
Nick Decius, owner of Nick’s photography studio, told 7News in a phone interview that he was shocked when he heard what happened and that Tegenus simply stopped showing up for work soon after.
“And then my manager called him, he didn’t answer, and since we’re talking right now, we never see him, he never answers. That’s all,” said Decius.
Despite their attempts to find him, initial attempts to contact the suspect proved fruitless. However, based on the evidence gathered, Tegenus was charged with a felony by law enforcement officials for inciting indecent behavior or romantic relationships while in a leadership position.
Three years after the initial incident, Tegenus was finally detained by authorities after traffic was stopped.
“I also insist that the victim not contact or return to any school,” the judge said at the bail hearing.
“We do not know if there were any casualties prior to this incident, so we recommend that if anyone in the public sees this and reports a similar incident, contact your local law enforcement agency and initiate an investigation. Rogers said.
Thegenus was held on $5,000 bail and he came out of bail Thursday night.
A lawyer for Thegenus did not immediately respond to a 7News request for comment.
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