An Arizona kindergarten teacher is facing indecent exposure and child abuse charges after he pulled off the shirt of one of his female students.
According to Mesa, Arizona police, 54-year-old teacher Thomas Washburn lost his temper in front of his class recently. He was yelling loudly and frightening the students. One student was so frightened by Washburn that she buried her face inside her shirt. When Washburn saw the student hiding, he reacted in anger.
Washburn reportedly ripped the girls shirt off of her body. The girl was left naked from the waist up in front of the class for over 10 minutes as Washburn held her shirt. Eventually, Washburn returned the shirt to the girl. There was an adult teacher’s aid present in the room at the time of the incident. It is not known why the aid didn’t step in and help the situation.
At the end of the school day, Washburn confessed to the girl’s mother what he had done. She reported him to the principal immediately. The principal contacted the Mesa Police Department, and an investigation was opened.
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After interviewing the child and her mother about what happened, police brought Washburn in for his interview. He invoked his right to remain silent during the interview and did not offer police any new information.
Washburn has now been charged with one count of child abuse and 25 counts of indecent exposure. The 25 indecent exposure charges account for each child present at the time of the incident.
A number of parents with children in Washburn’s classroom spoke to the media about the teacher’s actions.
“Those actions are not acceptable under any circumstances. I feel if you're a teacher, there are certain moral guidelines you should not cross, and I feel those were broken," Sonya Coronado said.
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"He deserves what he got," said Allison Burkhead, who also has a child in Washburn's class. "No little kid should have to go through that."
Washburn has been placed on administrative leave by the school while the case proceeds.