Nearly 270 public educators were arrested on child sex-related crimes in the U.S. in the first nine months of this year, ranging from grooming to raping underage students.
An analysis conducted by Fox News Digital found that from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, at least 269 educators were arrested, which works out to roughly one arrest a day.
The 269 educators included four principals, two assistant principals, 226 teachers, 20 teacher’s aides and 17 substitute teachers.
At least 199 of the arrests, or 74%, involved alleged crimes against students.
The analysis looked at local news stories week by week featuring arrests of K-12 principals, assistant principals, teachers, substitute teachers and teachers’ aides on child sex-related crimes in school districts across the country. Arrests that weren’t publicized were not counted in the analysis, meaning the true number may well be higher.
Only 43 of the alleged crimes, or 16%, did not involve students. It is not known whether another 10% of the alleged crimes involved students.
Men also made up the vast majority, with over 80% of the arrests.
There are an estimated 3.2 million public school teachers in the country, meaning the arrests compiled by Fox News Digital make up only 0.0084%.
“The number of teachers arrested for child sex abuse is just the tip of the iceberg — much as it was for the Catholic Church prior to widespread exposure and investigation in the early 2000s,” Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “The best available academic research, published by the Department of Education, suggests that nearly 10% of public school students suffer from physical abuse between kindergarten and twelfth grade.”
“According to that research, the scale of sexual abuse in the public schools is nearly 100 times greater than that of the Catholic Church,” he said. “The question for critics who seek to downplay the extent of public-school sexual abuse is this: How many arrests need to happen before you consider it a problem? How many children need to be sexually abused by teachers before you consider it a crisis?”
Many of the arrests in Fox News Digital’s latest analysis involved especially heinous allegations.
Eugene Pratt, 57, a former principal, elementary school teacher and coach who taught at-risk youth in multiple Michigan public schools, was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in August. He is accused of sexually assaulting at least 15 boys and young adult men during his education career spanning several decades.
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, whose office is investigating Pratt, told ClickOnDetroit in August that sexual predators often put themselves in a supervisory position so that they have easy access to victims.
“When you see positions that he held that involve being a principal, school administrator, counselor, GED coordinator, and even after he taught, where he was arrested last week out of New Paths, as a driver, as a transport officer,” Swanson said. “Individuals like Eugene Pratt put themselves in positions of authority over others in order to act on their prey and to find and identify vulnerable people.”
Anthony Mattei, 59, a middle-school teacher in the Allen Independent School District in Texas, was charged in August with two counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact. The district has since put Mattei on administrative leave and launched an investigation after it was revealed he had been permitted to return to the classroom following an investigation into misconduct allegations in April, Texas Scorecard reported.
Stephen Kenion, 56, who taught self-defense classes to Baltimore City Public School students, was arrested last month after being accused of impregnating a 14-year-old former student and having sexual relationships with multiple minors back to 2009, including an 8-year-old student. He’s been charged with perverted practices, second-degree rape, numerous counts of second-degree assault and various sex offenses, CBS News reported.
In another startling development in August, four current or former Plymouth Public School educators in Connecticut were arrested in connection with an investigation into alleged child sex abuse by a fourth-grade teacher, 51-year-old James Eschert.
A principal and three staff members at Plymouth Center School were charged with failure to report abuse, neglect or injury of a child or imminent risk of serious harm to a child after students allegedly complained about misconduct by Eschert and nothing was done.
Eschert was arrested in January on five counts of risk of injury to a child and two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, Law & Crime reported.
The Fox News Digital analysis comes several months after the U.S. Department of Education released a report in June titled “Study of State Policies to Prohibit Aiding and Abetting Sexual Misconduct in Schools,” which analyzed state policies prohibiting “passing the trash,” or allowing suspected sexual abusers to quietly leave their jobs to possibly offend again in a different school district.
A bipartisan provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was originally proposed by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, requires all states receiving federal education funding to enact laws prohibiting the practice of “passing the trash.”
The Education Department’s report, however, found that laws against the practice are varied across the states, and that while all states require prospective employers to conduct criminal background checks on educators, and most states — 46 — require fingerprinting, only 19 states require employers to request information from an applicant’s current and former employers.
Moreover, only 14 states require employers to check an applicant’s eligibility for employment or certification, and only 11 require applicants to disclose information regarding investigations or disciplinary actions related to sexual abuse or misconduct.
The Department of Education last released a report on the topic in 2004, which claimed that nearly 9.6% of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.