ST. GEORGE — A St. George school teacher is facing three first-degree felony charges Wednesday for allegedly molesting a former elementary student of his on multiple occasions.
Curtis William Payne, 59, of Santa Clara, was arrested Tuesday and charged with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child while Payne was teaching at Sunset Elementary School in St. George in the ’90s, according to a probable cause statement filed by St. George Police in support of the arrest.
Detectives began investigating Payne in December 2017 when a woman came forward with allegations of Payne’s inappropriate conduct with her while she was in his fourth-grade class, the arresting officer wrote in the sworn statement.
The woman told police that Payne would allow her to sit on his lap behind his desk and that he groped her vagina with one of his hands on three or four separate occasions, the report states. She said the touching initially happened over her clothing, but that Payne eventually began touching her vagina underneath her clothing.
The woman disclosed additional details about how Payne would put movies on for her class, turn out the lights and have some children sit on the counter and others sit on the floor, the officer wrote, adding:
She said Curtis (Payne) would sit next to her, whether on the counter or the floor, and place his hand up her shirt. She described Curtis as groping her chest area, as well as placing his hands down her clothing and rubbing her vagina. She stated this happened multiple times during classroom movies.
The woman further told police about a pool party at someone’s house, stating that Payne grabbed her while she was in the pool and rubbed her genitals over and under her swimsuit, according to the statement.
Payne, who has been employed by the Washington County School District for 32 years, was teaching at Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School in St. George at the time of his arrest Tuesday, according to the Washington County School District.
Payne was interviewed at the St. George Police Department Tuesday where he confirmed he remembered the female as one of his former students in the late nineties, but denied the allegations, the report states.
Payne was arrested and transported to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office filed an information in 5th District Court Wednesday accusing Payne of three first-degree felony counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
Payne was subsequently released from police custody on bail pending trial. He is scheduled to appear before 5th District Judge G. Michael Westfall Thursday for his initial appearance.
St. George Police said the investigation is ongoing and are asking anyone with additional information about the sexual misconduct allegations to call 435-627-4338.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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