An Arizona teacher has been fired by Gilbert Public Schools after an investigation found that he had sex with a 15-year-old student.
Police initially arrested 41-year-old Joseph Stephenson in January on charges of sexual conduct with a minor.
When he was arrested, Stephenson had worked at Highland High School for just six months. The school placed him on administrative leave and have finally been able to dismiss him entirely.
Stephenson, a JROTC teacher, reportedly had sex with the 15-year-old girl in the JROTC portable classroom at least twice in December.
He also reportedly sent the girl inappropriate text messages, gifted her jewelry on Christmas, and had inappropriate FaceTime chats with the girl.
Stephenson admitted that he “had feelings” for the girl and when confronted by her parents he “began to tear up and cry.”
According to police, Stephenson also engaged in “inappropriate behavior” with at least four other underage students.
According to AZCentral, Stephenson “kissed female students, flirted with them, placed his hands under one girl’s clothes, and sent sexual text messages to female students.”
A fellow JROTC teacher at the school said he felt Stephenson’s relationships with the girls were “odd” but never “observed any criminal activity between him and a student.”
Student Matthew Martinez told ABC, “The chief, the guy who got arrested, like he made friends with everybody in the class like all of the students and everybody.”
Stephenson is being held under house arrest until his trial in September. Police say they are looking for any other potential victims and are asking anyone with information to contact Gilbert Police at 480-635-7213.