More charges brought against man who taught school in Washington County for years
By: Lauren Matthias
Posted: Feb 06, 2018 08:36 PM MST
Updated: Feb 07, 2018 10:20 PM MST
ST. GEORGE (News4Utah) - St. George Police say more victims have come forward - accusing a St. George teacher of sexual abuse. Curtis Payne now faces 12 additional charges.
The Washington County School District confirms Payne is currently on administrative leave and has been since his arrest on January 30.
He's been an employee there for 32 years, teaching children, but on Thursday he was in custody, charged with 17 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
"We are saddened by the allegations, and by the burden these individuals have had to carry for so long," said Steven Dunham, Washington County School District PIO.
That burden, police say, is carried by several victims who have now been identified in follow-up interviews. The incidents span decades.
"The victims who are coming forward are now ranging in age from 14 to 30," said Lona Trombley with St. George Police.
A woman who says she was a former student of Payne reached out to News4Utah to share her experience.
"I think he tried to make me his favorite at a certain point ... I just didn't feel comfortable sitting on his lap anymore, but he would rub my shoulders underneath my shirt ... I thought that his hand might have slipped, but now that I'm older I think it might have been more than that, but after that I couldn't be comfortable with him, and I ended up quitting the singing group he had at Sunset Elementary," said the former student.
The woman doesn't want to share her name publicly, but police confirm they interviewed her last week.
"If you were one of his like quote, unquote one of his special girls, you got all the good parts in the Sunset Express and that also meant he'd do some extra work with you after school," said the former student.
As of Tuesday, detectives have interviewed 32 individuals. Although not all disclosures progressed to the point of criminal action, Police say a similar pattern of conduct is described by many.
"I feel it's important for everyone who has experienced this to say something, because every girl who says something lends credibility to the one before her," said the former student.
If you have information regarding this case, you’re asked to call the investigations tip line at 435-627-4338.
If you suspect child abuse or neglect contact the DCFS 24/7 hotline: 855-323-3127. For more information, visit dcfs.utah.gov.