Richard Berrios, 20, of Holiday, Pasco County, Florida, United States worked as a substitute teacher for Pasco County School District for two months. He was added to the substitute list on October 19, 2021.
On December 13, 2021, Berrios was substituting at James M. Marlowe Elementary School in New Port Richey, Pasco County when he allegedly hugged a female student, then 11, during physical education (PE) class, stood behind her and squeezed her breast and butt. He allegedly did the same to another female student, then 10.
Three other students claim that they witnessed what Berrios did to the two girls. He allegedly tried to hug one of the witnesses but the witness managed to get away.
When a detective interrogated Berrios at his residence in Holiday, he claimed that he may have bumped the girls and grabbed them but it was not in a sexual way. On February 23, 2022, he was arrested on molestation charges.
“We are very disappointed,” Pasco County School District said in a statement obtained by ABC Action News. “As soon as the students came forward with the allegations, Mr. Berrios was inactivated as a sub and we reported it to law enforcement.”
“We appreciate the Pasco Sheriff’s Office’s thorough investigation, which resulted in the arrest today and we applaud the brave students for coming forward,” the statement continued. “Though we have no indications that there are other victims, we join the Sheriff’s Office in urging parents to come forward if they believe their student may have been victimized by Mr. Berrios.”
Holiday is a suburb of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. The suburb is bordered by New Port Richey to the north, Trinity to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the west and Tarpon Springs to the south.
There are three elementary schools in Holiday namely Gulfside Elementary School, Sunray Elementary and Gulf Trace Elementary School. The suburb is also home to Paul R. Smith Middle School, Anclote High School, Web of Wisdom and World of Knowledge.