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School teacher charged with inappropriate communication with child

A former Walt Disney Elementary School teacher had an initial hearing Thursday morning concerning a charge of inappropriate communication with a child.

Posted on Oct. 18, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Oct. 18, 2012 at 11:57 a.m.

SOUTH BEND — A Walt Disney Elementary School teacher had an initial hearing this morning, Oct. 18, on a misdemeanor charge of inappropriate communication with a child.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s office, Eric West, 30, a fifth-grade teacher at Disney, began texting with a student last summer who had been in his class during the 2010-11 school year. The now 12-year-old girl told investigators that West had told her to delete his texts from her cell phone, but the girl had not yet deleted the messages before her parents looked at her phone one day this summer.

The girl’s mother told St. Joseph County Police that there were approximately 265 messages on July 12 that she believed came from West’s phone. Detective Phil Williams of the St. Joseph County Police Cyber Crimes Unit found several sexually explicit messages from a phone number labeled as “Eric West” on the girl’s phone.

The St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office filed the probable cause affidavit and charging documents against West on Oct. 8. According to information from the prosecutor’s office, West’s status hearing is set for Nov. 28.

Teresa Carroll, Penn-Harris-Madison’s director of communications, said that West has been employed by the school corporation since May 29, 2008. He is on administrative leave with pay.

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