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RI CRIME

Former R.I. teacher accused of sexually assaulting his 16-year-old student ‘multiple times’ in his classroom

Francis Castillo, 35, of Fall River, Mass., was arrested earlier this month and faces three counts of third-degree sexual assault. On Friday, he did not enter a plea and was granted a $2,000 bail.

Francis Costillo, 35, of Fall River was arraigned at the 6th Division District Court in Providence on Friday.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — For months, a former teacher at a Providence charter school would first give cannabis gummies to a 16-year-old student before getting physical and sexually assaulting her in his classroom during the school day “multiple times,” according to an arrest warrant.

Francis Castillo, 35, of Fall River, Mass., was arrested earlier this month and faces three counts of third-degree sexual assault. Castillo was arraigned in a Rhode Island District Court in Providence on Friday morning. He did not enter a plea but was granted $2,000 bail and was ordered to have no contact with the student.

Castillo, who worked as a teacher at the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter School, was reported to Providence Police by Tammy Ferland, the school’s principal, for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with his student.

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The unnamed 16-year-old girl told police that Castillo became her teacher in January of this year. The first physical encounter between them allegedly occurred “sometime in February or March,” the affidavit says.

During the first encounter, the student alleges that Castillo gave her THC gummies during third period, which was a class he taught, and by the fifth period “she was feeling a little high.” She went to his classroom to make up a test and when she was done, he allegedly placed his hand on her inner thigh and then rubbed her vagina through her clothes. He then allegedly performed oral sex on her on his school desk. Moments later, she alleges, they had intercourse. The teenager told police that Castillo did not use a condom and “had ejaculated into the trash can.”

Also according to the affidavit, in the months following the initial incident, Castillo allegedly continued to give the girl THC gummies and “engage in sexual intercourse on a regular basis” during fifth period, when he was not teaching a class. This would happen three times per week, the teen claimed. She said he used a condom only once.

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Castillo’s lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday. Castillo is expected to appear back in court in September.

By early May, according to the affidavit, the school began noticing that the teen had been missing her fifth period class on a regular basis, and restricted her from leaving while class was in session. Unable to visit Castillo during the school day, she told police that she was in the school’s elevator when Castillo allegedly suggested they see each other after school for the first time.

On May 2, the teen said Castillo allegedly gave her two THC gummies during his class, according to the affidavit. They arranged to meet at the corner of Mathewson and Westminster streets in downtown Providence, which she said they thought would be far enough from the school and in a location where the school’s security cameras could not catch her getting into his car in the parking lot. In his car, the teen alleges he gave her a third THC gummy and told her to take it immediately. The teen told police that they then drove from downtown Providence to his apartment in Fall River.

Providence police Detective Koren Garcia wrote in the arrest warrant that the teen claimed that she and Castillo “had consensual sexual intercourse” in his apartment before driving to her home.

The following morning, police said the teen was asked to report to the school’s office. Both she and Castillo “denied everything,” according to police.

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But Ferland, the school’s principal, allegedly saw the teen get into Castillo’s car. Castillo changed his story and said he had given the teenager a ride to work in East Providence on his way home. The teen’s grandmother called her granddaughter’s employer and found out she never reported to work, according to the arrest warrant.

“That’s when everything came out,” Garcia wrote in the arrest warrant.

The school’s CEO, Dr. Pamela McCue, told WPRI-12 that administrators also reported the allegations to the Department of Children, Youth and Families, and the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Castillo lost his job in early May but was not arrested until June 12 as a fugitive from justice for active warrants related to the case. He was booked on June 13 and was in custody at the House of Correction in Dartmouth before his arraignment on Friday.

“Our daily operations center around the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We are committed to that remaining our utmost priority,” said McCue in a statement. “As this is an ongoing and active investigation, we cannot comment any further on the specifics of the matter. Our student support services team is ready to assist any student who may feel the need to speak to a mental health counselor.”


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.