An Immokalee High School teacher was arrested Tuesday night after it was revealed that he inappropriately touched at least one student in class and sent naked photos of himself to another student.
Collier County sheriff’s deputies arrested Travis Westberry, 30, of Summit Place Circle in Naples, on a felony charge connected with inappropriate relationships he had with two juvenile victims. He faces charges of battery, distributing obscene material to a child, and transmission of material harmful to minors.
Westberry is a math teacher and boys varsity basketball coach at Immokalee High School. The investigation began Tuesday after the victims disclosed information about Westberry to a Collier County Public Schools staff member, according to the CCSO.
His arrest sent shockwaves through Immokalee High School. Faustina Rivera heard about it when she came to pick up her grandson.
“I’m stunned. I mean, not at my high school!,” Rivera said.
The sheriff’s office said Westberry sent nude photos of himself to a student as recently as last week. A second student, a 15-year-old sophomore, told deputies Westberry rubbed her thigh while in class and showed her obscene photos and videos of himself before requesting the same from her.
The details disturbed mom Ariana Rivera, who has a daughter.
“I am stunned myself. I mean, I thought teachers are supposed to be there to protect the kids while they’re in school. Like a second parent.”
Westberry was immediately fired from the school district.
The CCSO arrest report states that a female student was in Westberry’s math class when he pulled his chair up next to her desk to help her with classwork. He placed his hand on her inner thigh and began rubbing it until she pulled away. She told investigators this had happened twice before. The same victim also said that Westberry took out his phone and showed her photos of himself naked and a video of himself masturbating. He then requested she send photos of herself to him, so she pretended she did not speak English and he left her alone.
The report states the victim met with another student, who had received obscene images from the teacher, and together, they reported Westberry to school officials.
“The fact that every year there’s more and more of that crime happening, it’s really alarming,” Xavier Richardson said. ”That’s unacceptable … You don’t do that at school.”
Richardson used to play at the high school but not while Westberry was coaching.
“I just hope that he comes to his senses,” Richardson said. “I wouldn’t blame it on the school. I would blame it on the person … because the schools do background checks.”
This isn’t the first time a Collier County teacher is accused of being inappropriate with students.
Former teacher Hector Manley was accused of molesting more than a dozen students.
Nancy Salazar says something needs to be done to protect kids.
“I was just a student a few years ago, and honestly, it could have been any of my peers back then as well,” Salazar said. “It’s really scary for the younger kids coming into the generation now.”
Salazar says crimes like this are one too many.
“The school system should be more informed of who they’re hiring and letting around these kids because we’re supposed to trust these people around our children,” Salazar said.
Westberry told deputies after his arrest that he has struggled with sex addiction and has gone to therapy for it. He said his wife was aware of his addiction and had previously advised him not to take a job teaching young women, according to the arrest report. He admitted to investigators that he had done what the victim said he did, that he knew she was a minor and apologized.
The investigation is ongoing.
WINK News reached out to the school district and asked about policies related to background checks for employees.
Collier County Public Schools statement
It is not appropriate to draw inferences from the unforeseen actions of three individuals, at different times and different places, as reflective of the some 7,000 talented, dedicated, and hardworking employees of the District who not only were hired after a careful screening and onboarding process, but also honor and respect Florida’s code of professional ethics and civility, which is also District policy.