Ethel Anderson was supposed to be the boy's tutor, but the Mango Elementary School teacher's texts to the 12-year-old boy conveyed a different type of relationship, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.
“Tell me you love me because I'm madly in love with you," Anderson, then 29, wrote, according to Assistant State Attorney Rita Peters.
"I don't want my husband. I want you."
"My heart is seriously pounding right now thinking of you."
Anderson faces multiple lewd and lascivious charges, accused of committing sex acts with a boy she had previously taught in first and fourth grades. She admitted to the acts — and to letting him fondle her — in a recorded conversation with the boy's mother.
Jurors will hear that recording today. They will also hear from the boy, who today turns 14.
Anderson's Feb. 29, 2012, arrest shocked colleagues at Mango Elementary, where she was named diversity educator of the year for 2011 and had a spotless disciplinary record.
The boy was not in her class. Anderson had been tutoring him since December 2011. She would go to his home, pick him up and take him back to her Riverview home, where deputies say they engaged in sex acts.
The boy told his mother about the acts in a text message that February, Peters said in opening statements Monday. The mother called deputies, who asked her to wear a recording device to a meeting with Anderson.
The meeting lasted one hour. At the end, Anderson confessed while the mother held her composure. She didn't lose it until she was alone in her car, Peters said.
Anderson's defense attorney, William Knight, told jurors they will not hear about any physical evidence during this week's trial. Law enforcement never found any DNA evidence.
"You simply have the allegations of this young man," he said.
The boy was a troubled student, both attorneys said.
It is also suspicious that the boy shared these allegations with his mother only after getting bad news about his academic future, Knight said.
Today, jurors will also get to see some of the text messages. The prosecution has hundreds of pages of amorous messages, which flew between the pair for months.
In some, Peters said, the teacher is obviously jealous. She does not like it when the boy talks to other girls. She declares her "undying love."
"Why don't you tell me you love me?" Anderson once texted.
"I can't wait to marry you."
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3433.