The Franklin County Sheriff's Office fired the deputy who had been working as the school resource officer at Westland High School.

According to documents released May 16, investigators found that Chris Cuccio, 32, was having an inappropriate relationship with a female student.

The cause of termination was "job abandonment," said Marc Gofstein, a spokesman with the sheriff's office.

Cuccio, an 11-year veteran of the sheriff's office, "basically went AWOL" after he was put on unpaid leave April 7 when the South-Western City School District alerted the sheriff's office to a possible situation involving the student, Gofstein said.

Cuccio was assigned to temporary duty during the investigation at the sheriff's department's Support Services Division on North Hague Avenue.

"He never showed up," Gofstein said.

During the investigation of the incident at Westland, sheriff's office investigators spoke with several people who had direct knowledge of the incident or were able to provide information, he said.

"We were never able to talk to Deputy Cuccio to get his side of the story," Gofstein said. "We tried contacting him by phone, by letter and visiting his home, but he never made himself available to talk with us."

Cuccio, a 2003 graduate of Westland High, was "flirtatious" with a lot of female students, Vice Principal Sam Belk told sheriff's investigators. He would buy girls food at lunch and walk them to class. Belk said he also heard from a former teacher that Cuccio had bought her a $50 gift card.

Belk told investigators that Cuccio's behavior was "obvious enough that other staff has asked (Belk) his thoughts on the conduct and if it was appropriate."

The county prosecutor examined the evidence collected in the case and determined no criminal charges should be filed against Cuccio, Gofstein said.

Interviews with the girl and other students revealed that he would meet her in an empty room when she was supposed to be at class, exchange suggestive messages with her over a phone app, visit her at her job and give her expensive gifts.

The girl said that she and the deputy had been friends since the beginning of the school year. She said Cuccio would hug her and kiss her neck and nibble her ears, but insisted repeatedly that no touching took place before she was 18.

"She stated she believes Cuccio was 'holding back' until she turned eighteen, insinuating the criminal implications that could be involved under that age," said a report written by Cpl. Jason Ratcliff.

Investigators verified handwriting showing that he wrote in a card for her 18th birthday that she is "beautiful, amazing, and perfect," and signed it, "Love Always, Your Best Friend."

On April 7, another student went to Westland Principal Steve Gehlert about the relationship. He alerted South-Western Assistant Superintendent David Stewart.

A temporary school resource officer was assigned to Westland after Cuccio was put on leave, Gofstein said.

A permanent replacement will be assigned to Westland High School next school year.

Cuccio was hired as a deputy in 2006 to work in the Corrections Division. Documents in his personnel file call him motivated, ambitious and dependable, with a good attitude.

Columbus Dispatch reporter Shannon Gilchrist contributed to this story.