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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Ocala music teacher charged in child sex sting

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office arrested a middle school teacher who allegedly drove from Dunnellon to have sex with a 14-year-old Tuesday night.

Andrew O. Noell, 25, of Ocala, was charged with public order crimes and two counts of obscene communication. Noell teaches band, chorus, general music and piano at Dunnellon Middle School, according to the school’s website.

The Marion County School Board placed Noell on paid administrative leave Wednesday, spokesman Kevin Christian said. As a policy, the school board won’t fire an arrested teacher until his or her case is closed. If it did let a teacher go and the charges against that teacher were dropped, Christian said, the school board could be sued.

Deputy William Patten started investigating Noell as part of a “Don’t Play in Clay” undercover operation in Clay County. That operation ended at the beginning of this month, but according to an arrest report, Noell continued exchanging text messages with Patten, thinking the deputy was a 14-year-old girl’s guardian.

Noell asked Patten about the fictional girl’s sexual experience and whether she would be able to perform certain sex acts, according to police. He then agreed to meet the girl at an undisclosed location in Alachua County — Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Todd Kelly said the department would not release the meeting spot.

Deputies brought Noell to the Sheriff’s Office, and he was arrested at about 8:30 p.m., Kelly said. Noell told deputies he thought he was meeting a 17-year-old.

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@alligator.org.

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