A Higley High School band assistant has been arrested on suspicion of raping and sodomizing a 15-year-old girl in a soundproof practice room on campus.
The assistant, Jeremy Ross Calvert, 20, was never fingerprinted for a background check, said Christy Stevens, spokeswoman for the Higley Unified School District. The district is now starting an internal audit of all employee files to ensure they include fingerprint background checks, she said.
Calvert was arrested about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in connection with the Nov. 7 incident, police announced Wednesday. Gilbert police spokesman Lt. Joe Ruet said the sex was not consensual and the teen had no romantic interest in her attacker.
“We work hard to develop principles and values in our students, encourage them to participate in band and look up to people in positions of leadership,” Ruet said. “But he absolutely betrayed that trust. This has a devastating impact not only on the poor victim, but it will have a ripple effect throughout the whole school.”
The girl, who took music lessons from Calvert, told police there was usually another person in the room with them, but she was alone with Calvert at the time.
According to court records, Calvert attacked the girl despite her repeated demands for him to stop. When the teen tried to leave, the man stood at the doorway to block her exit.
“She also felt intimidated and scared that if she did not comply, Calvert would become violent,” court records state.
The Tribune isn’t identifying the girl.
Police said Calvert admitted to having sex with a minor. He is being held without bond in Maricopa County’s Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix.
School officials said Calvert was volunteering at the campus and had worked for 18 months as a part-time employee. Stevens said Calvert was fired after the incident.
District policy prohibits volunteers and assistants from being alone with students. Stevens said school officials are investigating band teacher Danny Orrantia to see if he violated policy by leaving the assistant alone with the girl.
Stevens also said it is the district’s policy to have a fingerprint clearance card for every employee. But if employees don’t have clearance, they can work as long as they are directly supervised, she said.
School officials sent a letter Wednesday to parents, but the letter did not mention that police were investigating a possible rape on campus. The letter also did not mention the arrest or that the instructional assistant worked with the band.
“My first reaction was one of disbelief because this happened not too long ago with the choir director,” said Amy O’Rear, mother of a Higley High freshman in the band.
Choir teacher Ben LeMere pleaded guilty in May 2003 to sexual conduct with a minor after he impregnated a 15-year-old Higley High student. He was sentenced to three months in prison.
O’Rear didn’t know who was arrested until she was informed by the Tribune. She said she was disappointed that the letter did not provide the suspect’s name or mention that he was involved with the band.
“Especially (for) parents of band students, it would be nice to get that information,” O’Rear said.
The letter said the school would hold workshops to inform students of their rights and how to report inappropriate conduct.
- Tribune reporters Tammy Krikorian and Nicole Beyer contributed to this report.