OKEECHOBEE, Fla. -- A 28-year-old social studies teacher, youth pastor and girl's basketball coach at Yearling Middle School was arrested Thursday morning on a charge of lewd and lascivious molestation on a child.
Joel A. Huddleston, of 3844 NW 30 Ave., also is youth pastor at the Buckhead Ridge Christian Church, according to the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's office obtained information of possible sexual abuse by Huddleston on Thursday. A detective interviewed Huddleston, who denied the accusations, "however, evidence proved otherwise."
Authorities say he was caught in bed, asleep at his home, with a 12-year-old girl, a student at Yearling Middle School. Huddleston's wife took cell phone pictures of them in bed, and turned the photos over to detectives.
"His wife came home and could not find him and got in through a locked door into a bedroom area and discovered the young lady and he in the room. She (the girl) was in a state of undress and he was clothed. They were both on the bed, our understanding is both were asleep. His hands were upon the young lady," said Okeechobee County Sheriff Paul May.
The Pastor at the Buckhead Ridge Christian Church where Huddleston worked, told us they have dismissed him and says the allegations are quote: "very much surprising to everybody."
The sheriff says Huddleston has no prior arrest record.
"There's just so much going on in this world today. I mean you read this every time you pick up the paper. It happens here just like anywhere else. My reaction? It's pretty upsetting," said Sheriff May.
Huddleston is currently held in the Okeechobee County Jail with no bond