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Whit Johnson ReportingPolice have arrested a Tooele elementary school teacher who is charged with aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Investigators say he had several victims.
Investigators say Christopher Burton unlawfully touched multiple third grade students, all are under the age of 14. The incidents date back to January.
We talked to parents of victims, school staff and authorities, and the feelings are mixed.
Megan Miller, a former East Elementary student, told KSL, "He was fun and he would always encourage us to do new things."
He sounds like your typical and respected third grade teacher. The parent of one victim said, "I think the kids probably seen it as affectionate behavior." But investigators say 25-year-old Christopher Burton's affection included sexual abuse.
Doug Hogan, the Tooele county attorney, said, "There are multiple victims that have been identified, and we have multiple instances of abuse with several of the victims."
The East Elementary School teacher of three years was arrested yesterday as part of a multi-agency investigation.
"Evidently it was another child in the classroom, and my son was ID'd by other students," one victim's mother said. That mother, who asked not to be identified, was told by authorities that Burton abused her son. "When the school decided to do something, he was the teacher that shaved his head and let the kids paint his head. He was that well liked," she added.
The probable-cause statement in the case reports the abuse spanned at least several months, consisting of inappropriate touching below the waist.
Michael Johnsen, superintendent of the Tooele County school district, said, "People of this persuasion have the ability to manipulate staff and manipulate children, and they do the grooming and gain the confidence."
The Tooele County School District says Burton passed a national clearance check, had good references and his resume illustrated teaching experience of several years.
The investigation into his actions will take time and the healing even longer. Tooele Valley Mental Health and the Children's Justice Center are assisting families that have been affected.
Chistopher Burton is in the county jail without bail.