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Former San Tan Elementary teacher accused of sexual misconduct with students

2-8-11 By Mike Sakal, Tribune East Valley Tribune



A former San Tan Elementary science teacher accused of inappropriately touching two female students is facing up to 180 days in jail, a $2,500 fine and could have to undergo counseling if convicted, according to court records.

Jeffrey Michael Taylor, 51, had been an eighth grade science teacher in the Higley Unified School District since 2006 but resigned in November in the midst of a school district investigation into allegations that he had squeezed a girl's buttocks, touched a girl's thigh through a hole in her jeans and gave them massages, according to court documents. The girls were 13 and 14 years old.

He was charged with one count of misdemeanor assault and two counts of disorderly conduct and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last month. He is scheduled to next appear in Gilbert Municipal Court for a hearing on Feb. 28.

Taylor is denying the allegations, but students claim they saw him massage a student as well as hold up his cell phone during class and take pictures of female students, according to court documents.

Gilbert town prosecutor Lynn Arouh told the Tribune on Tuesday that no additional victims have come forward.

Taylor's attorney, Stephen Duncan, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Taylor's arrest was the first of two recent arrests of male teachers involving allegations of inappropriate behavior with junior high-age female students.

Last Saturday, Carl Mosher, a 32-year-old gym teacher at St. Gregory's Catholic School in Phoenix was arrested on suspicion of sexual conduct with a 13-year-old girl in December who recently turned 14. Police say Mosher is a friend of the victim's family and admitted to having sex with the girl after the girl's mother confronted him about sexually charged text messages between Mosher and her daughter.

Mosher has been placed on administrative leave from the school, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Taylor also taught in schools in California from 1989 to 2006 and never had any complaints lodged against him, according to information from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Taylor also taught in New Jersey.

Higley district officials informed the Arizona Board of Education about their investigation into Mosher on Oct. 22, according to Charles Easaw, chief investigator for the Arizona Board of Education's Investigative Unit.

Although Arizona's court actions are known to be among the toughest and swiftest in the country to try to curtail molestations of students by teachers, the statistics remain staggering in Arizona.

Since 1998, nearly 60 teachers from East Valley schools alone have surrendered their teaching certifications or had them revoked from the state Board of Education because of sexually inappropriate relationships with students, according to state records and an investigation conducted by the Tribune into educator sexual misconduct in 2007.

Currently, there are 698 teachers under investigation by the State Board of Education for allegations of unprofessional conduct, including 199 accused of sexually-related misconduct, according to information from the Arizona Board of Education.

Taylor was arrested on suspicion of the offenses in October.


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