The drama teacher at Hialeah Middle School in Hialeah, Florida, was arrested Monday and charged with multiple felonies, including molestation, engaging in a sex act with a child, and lewd and lascivious battery.
She posted her $185,000 bond, and was released from a Miami-Dade jail on Tuesday afternoon.
Brittiny Lopez-Murray is facing a total of 25 felony charges across two separate cases regarding the incident. Her arraignment hearing, where she will respond to the charges, is set for Nov. 3 at 9 a.m.
Lopez-Murray, 31, had been working in the district for four years, and apparently had “no prior disciplinary history” at the time of her arrest. She was named rookie teacher of the year in 2017.
In a Miami-Dade bond court on Tuesday morning, Circuit Judge Mind C. Glazer issued Lopez-Murray a stay-away order, forbidding her from contacting the victim “directly, indirectly, in person, in writing, on social media or through a third party.”
Brittiny Lopez-Murray nodded along to show her understanding but otherwise remained silent throughout the proceedings. A court date does not yet
According to a police report obtained by the Miami Herald, Lopez-Murray’s relationship with the teen began in August, when she texted him about her “feelings toward him.” The victim, a former student of hers, is reportedly now enrolled at a high school in Hialeah.
After meeting for coffee, Brittiny Lopez-Murray allegedly engaged in sex acts with the teen in her car. Police say she continued to molest the boy on multiple occasions for the next two months, often picking him up from basketball practice before sexually assaulting him in area parking lots — including at a mall and a Publix grocery store.
The alleged abuse came to light Saturday, when the victim’s sister searched his phone after becoming suspicious of his behavior. She discovered graphic texts from the teacher, including a conversation about “how much they enjoyed the sex with each other,” according to the police report.
The boy’s father also allegedly discovered nude photos that Brittiny Lopez-Murray had sent the teen, and notified authorities. Police interviewed the victim, who told them what happened, leading to Lopez-Murray’s arrest on Monday.
“She is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” said Landon Ray, her defense attorney. “We hope everyone is patient, doesn’t rush to judgment and respects the family’s privacy.”
Lopez-Murray was reportedly married in 2016, though it’s unclear whether she is still married now.
In a statement on Monday, representatives of Miami-Dade School District said they were “saddened and disappointed over these serious allegations, given that the district takes great measures to ensure our students are educated in safe learning environments.”
“All employees receive training and are expected to abide by the district’s ‘standards of ethical conduct’ policy,” the statement continued. “It is unfortunate that despite our efforts, the actions of some individuals run contrary to the behavior that is expected of them.”
“As a result of this arrest, [we] will begin the process of terminating her employment and prevent her from seeking future work with this district.”
The age of consent in the state of Florida is 18, meaning the commission of any sex act with a person younger than that age is sexual assault, as a matter of legal course.
On the same day as Brittiny Lopez-Murray’s arrest, Miami-Dade police apprehended 36-year-old Daniel Hernandez, another area middle school teacher accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old student. The cases are unrelated.