Naples, Florida: A former first and second grade teacher at Parkside Elementary School was sentenced on Friday, January 21 to 25 years in prison for lewd and lascivious molestation of 20 children under the age of 12.
The youngest child was 6 years old.
32-year-old Hector Castro Manley was arrested initially on March 1, 2019 on charges of child molestation and sexual battery after three victims came forward to report that Manley had touched them inappropriately in the class room.
He plead not-guilty to the initial charges against him and was released on bail.
Within a week, however, ten more children came forward with allegations of abuse which was said to have taken place in the classroom, in the school hallways, and on the soccer field where Manley was a coach.
Manly turned himself back in to law enforcement and has remained in jail since.
As a part of a plea deal Manley changed his plea to no contest and Judge Joseph G. Foster pronounced him guilty. Three charges of sexual battery were also dropped as a part of the deal.
Manly was sentenced to 25 years in prison and assessed a fine of about $24,000 in court fees. Upon his release he will be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life and will be subject to GPS monitoring.
Foster did state though that Manley would be allowed to travel to El Salvador to visit his biological family once he is released, but that he must report to the Department of Corrections immediately upon his return.
With the allegations of abuse spanning between August 15, 2017 and March 1, 2019, several parents have filed a lawsuit against the school board, alleging that they did not take appropriate actions to protect the children.
"There was so many warning signs," Attorney Gregg R. Schwartz said, "and when you have those flashing and then have that he sexually assaulted three or four little kids and they are told, I can't imagine why this was [not] immediately investigated."
The case against the school board remains ongoing and a hearing is scheduled for July 20, 2022.