Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Pasco teacher accused of having sex with student

LAND O'LAKES — Larry Wideman was furious when he discovered his girlfriend was involved with someone else. He followed the couple in his Chevy Astro van, rammed their car on County Line Road and banged his fists on the car window, authorities said. Inside that car: a suspended high school teacher named Maryann Verdi, 40, and a 17-year-old boy.

Wideman was charged with domestic battery for that Sept. 29 incident, which also triggered a criminal investigation into Verdi's relationship with the teen. That investigation led to Verdi's arrest Wednesday on charges of lewd or lascivious battery and unlawful sexual activity with a minor. She remains at the Land O'Lakes jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.

According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Verdi first had sex with the boy, then 15, in December 2009, when she was a teacher at River Ridge High School. She had sex recently with the same boy, now 17, in her vehicle, authorities said.

Verdi had transferred this fall to Sunlake High School, but was on unpaid leave for other issues when this investigation began. Superintendent Heather Fiorentino had recommended firing Verdi over numerous allegations of unprofessional conduct, ranging from texting during staff meetings and calling some co-workers "bitches" to spending instructional time "talking about alcohol, drugs and (her) experiences in jail."

Verdi originally vowed to fight for her job: "It's gossip. A lot of it is hearsay. And it's not the truth," she told the Times in an interview last month. But on Oct. 3, as the Sheriff's Office launched its formal investigation into her relationship with the boy, she submitted her resignation.

Verdi became a teacher in 1996, inspired by the instructors she had as an "at-risk" teen at Gulf High School. She said she wanted to help similarly troubled kids.

She worked at River Ridge High School for years, until a March 2010 arrest for domestic battery and battery on a law enforcement officer landed her on unpaid leave.

That arrest stemmed from a fight with her husband. The charges were waived after she completed pretrial intervention.

The district gave Verdi a fresh start this fall with a new assignment at Sunlake High School, teaching U.S. history and world history classes. But she was suspended before classes even began.

A former colleague from River Ridge accused Verdi of sending her profanity-laced text messages over the summer. New colleagues at Sunlake High raised concerns about Verdi's punctuality, attentiveness in meetings, cell phone use and smoking on campus.

Staffers also complained about Verdi's boyfriend, Wideman, who spent time on campus during planning week. One teacher said Wideman, 43, appeared to be impaired. An assistant principal described his behavior as "erratic and almost 'tweaky.' "

Verdi returned from her suspension two weeks into the school year — then was escorted off campus Sept. 9 amid the accusations of using inappropriate language and discussing inappropriate topics in class.

Staff writer Jacqueline Baylon contributed to this report.

Former Pasco teacher accused of having sex with student 10/27/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 12:11am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning journal: Plans set for 25th anniversary celebration

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season Friday, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  Anthony DeAngelo of the Tampa Bay Lightning poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
  2. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    While the Lightning is still trying to bolster its blueline via trade, it selected a big, right shot defenseman Cal Foote at No. 14 overall Friday in the NHL Draft.

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  3. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  4. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.

  5. The Lightning's 2017-18 road jersey