A Gilbert high school teacher accused of molesting a 6-year-old girl admitted he “just got carried away” when tickling her three years ago, according to a report released Tuesday.
“If I put my hand down her underwear, if I did touch her inappropriately, which apparently I did, then I committed a crime,” Robert “Barney” Oldfield told a Gilbert detective.
Oldfield, 59, remains on paid leave from his job and is prohibited from the campus of Highland High School, where he had taught earth science and college geology since August 1999.
The case first came to light after Oldfield ran into the girl on Aug. 10 while she was at the school with her mother, also a Highland teacher. The report states that Oldfield grabbed the girl, now 10, around the hips and asked if she was still ticklish. Later that day, she told her mother Oldfield had touched her inappropriately "a few years ago," the report states.
She said Oldfield used to bounce her on his lap and massage her back. Then he would slip his hands into her pants, the report states. She also told a school counselor on Aug. 12 that Oldfield twice had put his hands down her pants, and it made her feel so uncomfortable she refused to go into his classroom.
When detective James Palmer interviewed the girl on Aug. 20, she told him Oldfield had touched her beneath her underpants on her buttocks “a bunch of times.” She remembered a time when he put his hand “down the back of her pants and started to move around the front,” Palmer wrote.
She told Palmer at the time she was scared to report the incident. During a second interview Aug. 26, the girl told police and prosecutors she was “mad and sad” about what happened.
Police had the girl's mother call Oldfield with a tape recorder running. Reached at Highland High School, he confessed to touching the girl multiple times, Palmer wrote. Oldfield said he knew he had “violated” the girl.
“I'm so sorry,” he told the girl's mother.
Oldfield was arrested the next day at his home and taken to police headquarters. There, he told Palmer he fondled the girl in the school's science room while her mother — who had taken her daughter to work because of day-care problems — was teaching a class.
Oldfield admitted that a second incident occurred somewhere else in the school, Palmer wrote in his report. Oldfield told the detective he needed counseling and figured he was headed to prison.
After being booked into jail, he was freed after posting a $54,000 bond. Oldfield, a former geologist for the U.S. Forest Service, taught in Massachusetts and Kentucky during the 1970s. He had also taught geology at South Mountain and Chandler/Gilbert community colleges since 1998.
An investigation to determine if Oldfield molested others is continuing, police said Tuesday.