A female employee of Canyon State Academy in Queen Creek was placed on leave after allegations surfaced last week that she had sex with a 16-year-old student, a state official said Monday.
The 26-year-old woman is prohibited from contact with students while police investigate the allegations, said David Matthews, a program administrator for the state Department of Economic Security, which oversees the school for troubled boys. The woman’s job title at the school was not released.
The school’s director, James Bednark, did not return calls from the Tribune.
Sgt. Randy Force of the Phoenix police confirmed that there is an investigation, but said he could not release details.
The boy disclosed the alleged relationship after being arrested Feb. 16 on suspicion of aggravated assault on a
police officer, according to a police report.
"(He) told me that he had been having problems with his family since he had become involved with a 26-year-old employee at his school," an officer wrote.
The teenage boy, whose name is being withheld by the Tribune, called police Feb. 16 and asked them to arrest him at a Phoenix Holiday Inn because he "wanted to get refocused."
When police officers arrived, he ended up in a scuffle with them and elbowed an officer in the nose, the report said.
Police noted in the report that the boy has gang affiliations, and court records reveal various minor brushes with the law, including a conviction in 2000 for criminal damage.
The report also said the boy maintains excellent grades as a Canyon State Academy junior.
Nick Hentoff, a Phoenix attorney who represents the boy’s mother, said the report makes it clear the boy is suffering from "emotional difficulties" about the alleged affair.
"He’s out of his head because she’s messing with his head," Hentoff said. The woman, a married mother of three children, took the boy to motels and wrote him letters, he said.
The Canyon State Academy changed its name from the Arizona Boys Ranch three years ago to help improve its image after a student died amid allegations of abuse.