Kansas City police on Thursday arrested a 53-year-old teacher’s assistant at St. Thomas More School after he allegedly repeatedly grabbed a student’s breast.
The assistant would act as if he were tripping, then catch himself by grabbing her breast, the 11-year-old told police. She didn’t think it was an accident because it started occurring weekly during class at the school at 11800 Holmes Road, she said.
The grabbing began in December, the girl said.
The incidents came to light recently after the girl told her parents she wanted to drop out of that particular class. The girl also had been exhibiting unusual anxiety about attending the class.
Her parents then contacted the school principal. The principal set up a meeting with a school counselor last week, and the girl disclosed what allegedly had been happening. The school immediately suspended the assistant and reported the accusation to the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services.
Police sent the girl to be interviewed by specially trained social workers. Officers then arrested the assistant at his home Thursday.
No charges had been filed as of Thursday evening.
Detectives are investigating whether there are other victims.
In an odd twist, just days earlier the school had suspended the teacher who hired the assistant after the teacher was arrested for lurking around an Independence school.
The teacher, who was a part-time contractor, drove a van with a St. Thomas More sticker on it and drew witnesses’ attention with his suspicious behavior. They thought he was watching children, police said.
Police did not seek any criminal charges against the teacher, but he remains suspended, pending an internal investigation, according to a statement released by the principal Thursday afternoon.
The school and Catholic diocese had not previously received any report of suspicious conduct by the teacher or assistant, the principal’s statement said.
“Both men had undergone background screening and were required to complete safe environment training per diocesan policy for any person working with minors,” Brian Borgmeyer wrote in the statement. “Both the school and the diocese are cooperating with law enforcement authorities in these investigations.”