A former physical education teacher at Westlake Christian School in Palm Harbor is accused of molesting a student who won an auction to spend a day with a teacher outside of school, according to an arrest warrant.
Joe Habegger, 55, was booked into the Pinellas County jail on Monday for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under the age of 12.
Habegger was a PE teacher at Westlake Christian School for the 2013-2014 school year. During that time, the boy won a school auction to spend a day with a teacher outside of school and selected Habegger, according to the arrest warrant.
Deputies said the boy and Habegger began spending time together outside of school. The victim would spend the night at Habegger’s home in Tarpon Springs and during some of those incidences the former PE teacher would be naked in front of the boy and encourage the victim to undress, according to court records.
On three different occasions, Habegger would watch movies with the victim in his bedroom. Deputies said Habegger would rub the victim’s back, shoulders area, and then down into his pants. On one of those occasions, Habegger put his hand underneath the victim’s boxers and the boy told him to stop, according to the warrant.
Deputies said that inappropriate touching happened last summer, after school was out of session.
The Westlake Christian School principal, Jayanne Roggenbaum, declined a request for an on camera interview.
Instead, Roggenbaum released a statement that read, “Mr. Habbeger was employed at our school for one year, 2013-2014. After such time, his employment was separated for reasons unrelated to the pending criminal allegations. We are fully cooperating with law enforcement.”
Deputies said Habegger was arrested in Indiana a couple of weeks ago on a lewd and lascivious molestation warrant and was extradited back to Florida. Habegger’s being held in the Pinellas County jail on a $150,000 bond.