Arizona elementary school cancels ‘Retake Day’ after photographer is accused of sexually abusing children

A photographer hired for picture day at Freedom Elementary School in Buckeye, Arizona has been accused of sexually abusing minor children. The investigation is in the preliminary stages and the photographer has not been identified or charged as of yet.

On Sep. 2, Buckeye Police received reports that at least one sixth grade girl claimed to have been touched inappropriately by the photographer. “She said that the girl called her mom right away and was kind of traumatized,” said Donna Bradley, the girl’s grandmother, according to 3TV/CBS 5. Police were then contacted by the girl’s mother.

Although it is unclear where exactly the alleged incident(s) took place, Liberty Elementary School District Superintendent Lori Shough explained the allegations to the best of her knowledge in a letter to parents sent out on Wednesday.

“Administration was made aware of allegations regarding a contracted photographer for school pictures,” she began. “The Buckeye Police Department was contacted directly by an individual regarding these allegations, at which point police informed the District,” Shough said in the statement.

She continued, “That photographer was on the campus of Freedom Elementary School last month, and as Buckeye Police have indicated, is accused of sexual offenses against minors.”

“As for the contracted photographer, the District canceled a scheduled ‘retake day’ of school pictures involving this individual,” she assured parents.

“Furthermore, the District is putting on hold indefinitely any potential photography contracts with this company,” the superintendent added.

Luke Garrison with the Liberty School District said the photographer had passed a background check and has no prior record.

“We have a kiosk right here actually for anyone who steps on our campus has to scan their driver’s license and so that does a quick background check,” he explained. “If there’s any red flags you’re not on campus. That wasn’t the case with this individual.”

Garrison added that a photographer and a student would never be left alone together in any case.

“We did have three teachers inside of the area where the photos were being taken at that time there were also other photographers,” he said.

Three teachers have thus far been interviewed, but no further allegations have been made, Garrison told CBS 5.

Buckeye Police maintain the investigation is in its very early stages.

“One of the most difficult things about these situations is that information is very limited. There is nothing more that can be shared at this time,” Shough said in the letter. She encouraged anyone with knowledge to reach out to the Buckeye Police Department tip line at 623-349-6411.

“We are committed to the safety of our students and expect all contractors to adhere to the highest ethical practices and conduct. We will not tolerate behaviors that compromise the safety of our children,” the superintendent affirmed.

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