MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A math teacher at Miami Beach Senior High School has bonded out of jail hours after he was arrested over what investigators described as an inappropriate online relationship with an underage girl.
7News cameras captured 32-year-old Paul Urquiza as he walked out of the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on Wednesday night.
The suspect had his head covered with a jacket and declined to comment on his charges.
Miami-Dade Police officers took Urquiza into custody at around 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday after they served a search warrant at his home.
Parents who spoke with 7News at Miami Beach Senior were disturbed to learn about the arrest.
“It’s a scary thought. It’s not a safe feeling. I’m not happy about this. This is concerning,” said a parent.
According to the arrest affidavit, the suspect and the victim started talking online in 2021 via Instagram, Facebook and email. They met through Reddit after she commented on a picture of a cat.
Investigators said the minor lives overseas and is not a Miami-Dade County student.
The affidavit states Urquiza sent the teen a private message, and from that point, their exchanges became increasingly inappropriate.
The affidavit states, “Within one week, the defendant told the victim he loved her. The victim told the defendant that she was 16 years old and lived with her mother and sisters. The victim watched the defendant graduate from Miami Dade College via a livestream, and he told her he would be teaching math at Miami Beach Senior High School, confirming the victim’s belief that the defendant was over 30 years old.”
Detectives said the suspect sent the girl graphic videos of sexual acts and requested nude pictures from her.
According to the arrest affidavit, Urquiza “made increasing demands for photographs of the victim. Initially, he requested photographs of her in lingerie but soon demanded nude photographs. If the victim refused, he would ignore her, which manipulated her into sending the nude photographs so that he could have his attention again.”
The affidavit states Urquiza told the teen that he wanted to meet in person and would book a flight to Miami. He also suggested that they could meet up in Spain.
The affidavit states the girl accidentally sent a nude picture of herself to her mother on July 23, 2021. The teen’s mother confiscated the phone and contacted police.
A 7News crew went to Urquiza’s Miami Beach home, but the woman who opened the door did not want to talk.
MDPD Interim Director George A. Perez issued a statement that reads in part, “As a father, I am devastated for the involved child. Schools are supposed to be a safe haven for our children, and as parents, we entrust our educators with their safety. I’m appalled that this educator has stained the good work of so many excellent educators. There is no room in society for child pornography, and we will continue to educate our youth on the dangers surrounding them.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson Jaquelyn Calzadilla issued a statement that reads, “These allegations are disturbing and understandably upsetting; we will fully cooperate with partner law enforcement agencies in the investigation of this case. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty and staff. The District has initiated employment termination proceedings and he will be precluded from seeking future employment with this District.”
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said, “For the charged individual to be working as a high school teacher, with the potential of victimizing the very students he is entrusted to educate, terrifies every parent and worries every member of the law enforcement community and every school administrator at every level.”
“We need to feel safe when we send our kids to school,” said the parent who spoke with 7News. “Do I feel like my kids are safe? I’m nervous.”
Urquiza faces several charges, including sexual performance by a child and possession of images.
The suspect has been under investigation since 2021, and a 7News source said he was never removed from the classroom. 7News has reached out to district officials for comment.
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