Teacher Busted With Child Porn

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POSTED: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 1:30pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 3:45pm

Phoenix elementary school teacher admitted collecting images for years.

A Phoenix, Arizona teacher arrested this week on suspicion of sexually exploiting children told police that he had been collecting child pornography online for at least 10 years and that he was attracted to young boys, court records show.

Thomas Warner, 54, of Phoenix was arrested Monday after detectives found "numerous items of child pornography" on a computer inside his home.

Several external thumb drives also were found containing hundreds of images of the same nature.

Warner taught fourth grade at North Ranch Elementary.

He had been at North Ranch for six years and had a Department of Public Safety teacher clearance card, said Marty Macurak, district spokeswoman.

"He joined our district after completing his student teaching at Deer Valley Unified School District about 10 years ago," she said. "He taught at Indian Bend and Arrowhead (elementary schools) about seven years ago."

"There is no indication that our students were harmed," Macurak added. "We continue to be in touch with investigators and will keep our parent community apprised if any new information arises."

On Sunday, Phoenix police were notified by a computer repair company that a laptop computer had images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation of minors.

Police found several hundred images of boys ages 8 to 12 engaged in sex acts, records show.

Police said Warner admitted he had been collecting these images for more than a decade and that he was sexually attracted to boys in that age range.

Warner "admitted that he uses his position as a teacher to compensate for the guilt he feels about viewing the images," the probable cause statement reads.

Macurak said the district placed Warner on administrative leave on Monday, "immediately after being notified of his arrest. He was not on school property when he was arrested."

She also said that Principal Sarah Hartley "informed parents of the arrest by telephone" late Monday afternoon "to allow the police time to release information following Warner's booking."

On Tuesday morning, some preschool parents still had not heard about the incident.

Sheba Bano's son attends preschool at North Ranch and was unaware that a fourth-grade teacher had been arrested.

"I don't think many of the parents know," she said. "Maybe because my son is in pre-K and on the other side of the school, I wasn't notified."

She was concerned about how the arrest will affect the school and the children. "The reputation of our school is at stake," Bano said. "Today's children are very intelligent and they observe. Who knows what they saw?"

Macurak said preschool parents were not informed because it is considered a separate program.

On Tuesday, North Ranch had a "care team" of counselors and psychologists available for parents, students and staff.

"Our parents' community has responded with support for the school, principal and staff," Macurak said. "They feel the same way we do, which is concern for the children's safety, saddened and betrayed."

Warner was booked into the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail on 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, according to police.
 

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