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Was this teacher selling AK-47s? | News

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Was this teacher selling AK-47s?
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Inverness, Florida - Joseph Andrew Castorina was known as a popular teacher at Citrus High School in Inverness.

"They loved him," said Citrus County Schools Human Resources Director Jeff Davis. "He got along great with the students."

That's why it came as such a shock to the district when documents show that one of their finest was facing federal charges of illegally trafficking firearms such as AK-47s back in December 2010.

Reports show that Castorina was busted during an undercover sting at a Super Target in Wesley Chapel.

"Whatever I can get, we can do," Castorina said to an undercover agent, referring to guns. "I have to see what I can get."

Castorina was busted by an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He was accused of selling guns illegally while being a teacher at Citrus High School.

Documents show Castorina plead guilty to selling guns without a license. He was put on a brief administrative leave from the district before returning to the classroom.

The question is: Why they would allow a convicted felon to return to teach?

Concerned parent Karen Bigge said, "It's very disappointing. You can't be a teacher and sell handguns."

Karen Bigge's daughter was a student at Citrus High School when Mr. Castorina was teaching and coaching girls' soccer. She told 10 News that long before Castorina was accused of illegally selling firearms, he was harassing her daughter and others on the girls soccer team. In fact, 10 News found documents showing that Castorina used inappropriate language and made sexual comments around the girls.

Records show that he made comments such as, "You deliberately tried to touch my nuts." He was also heard using, according to those same documents, words like, "sh-t" in front of students.

Also, when one girl accidentally touched another girl in the course of soccer practice, records show he said, "You probably just wanted to rub up against her."

The student and her friends admitted to being "creeped out."

When the student complained and expressed her concerns to teachers, the girl's mother says her daughter was retaliated against and ignored. The student, her mother claims, was also threatened with being kicked off the team by Castorina or having the team disbanded.

Since then, the student has filed a civil rights lawsuit under Title IX of the Education Amendment. After the complaint, the girl's mother says 35 other students corroborated her story.

That student currently attends the University of Tampa.

Mr. Castorina was eventually cleared by the Department of Education. However, once again, he was still teaching despite the federal firearms charges. According to Florida statues, that's not a fireable offense. There are 56 "disqualifiers," and Castorina's conviction was not part of that list.

Disqualifiers include things like sexual misconduct or murder, but not pleading guilty to failing to have a license to sell handguns.

So, Andrew Castorina was able to return to the classroom until he recently resigned for medical reasons.

He told us by phone he would not comment further on the case, even though we offered to speak with his Gainsville attorney.

According to Citrus County Schools Human Resources Director, Jeff Davis, "Our first duty is safety first for our students and we did that."

Castorina still has a civil lawsuit pending against him which could go to trial next year. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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