Amphi aide suspected of having sexual contact with 3 students

2013-01-24T00:00:00Z 2013-01-24T11:09:19Z Amphi aide suspected of having sexual contact with 3 studentsKimberly Matas and Carmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A teachers aide at Amphitheater High School was arrested on suspicion of having sexual contact with three students while three others watched and one recorded the encounter with a cellphone video camera, police said.

Clarice Marie Lee, 22, was arrested Tuesday after school officials alerted the Tucson Police Department that the special-education aide had sex with three boys ranging in age from 16 to 18, Sgt. Chris Widmer, a police spokesman, said in a news release.

None of the teens involved in the incident is a special-education student, said Todd Jaeger, associate superintendent for Amphitheater Public Schools, who called the incident "shocking and appalling."

Detective Cindy Mechtel, of the Police Department's child sexual assault unit, said the incident occurred Friday.

A school coach advised the staff Monday evening about the incident, said Mechtel, and police were notified Tuesday morning by administrators.

Mechtel would not elaborate about how the coach found out about the incident.

Monday was a school holiday, and Tuesday was the day students returned to school after the long weekend.

Detectives found out that during lunch period Lee led the six students to "an old gym on campus that is no longer used," Mechtel said.

While in the gym, Lee had intercourse with a 16-year-old boy and sexual contact with two 18-year-old students, Mechtel said.

The remaining three students - one age 17 and two 18 - watched while one of them recorded the incident on a cellphone, which detectives now have, Mechtel said.

The entire episode took minutes, Mechtel said.

She said it wasn't known if the video was shared with anyone or uploaded to the Internet.

Mechtel said Lee and the students knew one another "in passing in the hall."

"As far as we know, this is an isolated incident," Mechtel said. "The incident appeared to be spontaneous.

"This certainly isn't a commonplace situation for a school staff member to be involved in inappropriate behavior with so many students," Mechtel said. "I have never seen this before in my work with the Police Department."

Lee was booked into the Pima County jail on four counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, Mechtel said.

The counts pertain only to acts with the 16-year-old student, Mechtel said.

The case will be presented to the Pima County Attorney's Office to decide if additional charges will be filed against Lee regarding the other students, Mechtel said.

Lee resigned Tuesday, Jaeger said. Lee had been employed by the school since August 2012.

After Lee's arrest, the Amphi principal sent an automated telephone message to the home of every student informing parents of the situation.

The parents of students who were involved in the incident were contacted directly, Jaeger said. Counseling is available to all students who are interested.

All employees hired to work in the district, including Lee, are subject to background investigations and criminal-history checks, Jaeger said.

According to Lee's Facebook page, which appears to have been last updated in 2010, she is the mother of two who had attended Pima Community College and had previously worked as a special-education teaching assistant at another Tucson school.

On StarNet: If you want to know more about crime in Tucson, check out the StarNet Police Beat blog at azstarnet.com/policebeat

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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