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PHM teacher charged with sending inappropriate texts to 12-year-old

October 08, 2012|WSBT-TV Report and South Bend Tribune
  • Eric West, 30, 5th grade teacher at Walt Disney Elementary, was arrested for inappropriate communication with a minor.(Booking photo courtesy of St. Joseph Co. Sheriff's Dept.)
Eric West, 30, 5th grade teacher at Walt Disney Elementary, was arrested for inappropriate communication with a minor.(Booking photo courtesy of St. Joseph Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

MISHAWAKA – A Walt Disney Elementary School fifth-grade teacher accused of sending sexually explicit texts to a 12-year-old student at the school has formally been charged, according to documents filed Monday.

St. Joseph County prosecutors charged 30-year-old Eric West with inappropriate communication with a child, a Class A misdemeanor.
The girl told investigators West has been contacting the girl with texts and Facebook messages since she completed fifth grade in his class in 2011, according to the affidavit.
The girl is now in seventh grade.
The affidavit says West told the girl to delete the messages, though she did not delete a text exchange from July 12 that the girl’s mother later found on the phone.
The mother told police she found about 265 messages between the girl and West on July 12, according to the affidavit.
The content of the messages was sexual, the affidavit said.
Police arrested West last week after he confirmed the number the girl exchanged texts with was his.
Investigators secured a search warrant for all of West’s electronic devices and items he had access to at school. An analysis of his communications is pending.
On Monday, Teresa Carroll, a spokeswoman for P-H-M schools, said West is currently on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. He was hired by the school corporation in 2008.

West's 27-year-old brother Andrew last year was convicted of sexual misconduct with two 15-year-old girls while working with the Mishawaka Department of Community Development and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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WSBT talked to a parent of a child who attends the school. Like many parents, he has questions.

“It’s awful,” he said. “I don't know what it means. What does that really mean? …[Is it a] weird text messages, you know? And who does that kind of stuff? Why?

Parents of students at Walt Disney were sent home a letter Friday that, in part, read:

"Rest assured we will do all things necessary to maintain a safe environment for all of our students at Penn-Harris-Madison Schools."

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