Clearwater teacher arrested in indecent liberties case

A Clearwater Middle School teacher accused last week of indecent liberties with a child likely maintained a relationship with a 15-year-old boy for at least a year, police said Tuesday.

Cathleen M. Balman, 39, was arrested and booked into Sedgwick County Jail on Oct. 14, after interviews with the teacher and others led authorities to believe Balman had been involved with the boy, a former student, Wichita police Lt. Jeff Weible said.

Weible would not say whether the relationship started while Balman was the boy's teacher.

Balman taught language arts to eighth-graders for three years prior to her arrest, Clearwater Superintendent Mike Roth said Tuesday. She joined the school district in 2008 after teaching second-graders for one year at Argonia Elementary School.

Balman is currently on administrative leave with pay pending the results of investigations by police and the school district, Roth said. The 15-year-old boy is currently a Clearwater High School student.

Police initially investigated the incident as a possible child-exploitation case after they found "electronic traffic" — texts and pictures — had been exchanged between Balman and the boy, Weible said. An investigation later uncovered evidence of a possible relationship between the teacher and the boy, he said.

"As we gathered more information through our investigation, we began to see that there was a relationship as well," Weible said. "We have probable cause to believe indecent liberties have occurred."

Weible said the Sheriff's Office received a report involving Balman and the student on Sept. 18. The office turned the case over to the Wichita-Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit and the Wichita Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for investigation. Roth said no other students have come forward with allegations against Balman, but police investigations are ongoing.

Roth said he and Clearwater Middle School principal Keith Pauly met with middle school students Monday to talk about the teacher's arrest. District authorities notified parents by letter and phone messaging.

"We told them our goal was to keep them safe, and we want school to feel normal and (to) move on as quickly as possible," Roth said Tuesday.

Of the 170 students attending Clearwater Middle School this fall, about 94 took classes from Balman, Roth said. Roth said Balman is married with two children.

"Any time a situation like this happens, whether it's in Clearwater, Kan., or Clearwater, Fla., it's very difficult for the community," Roth said. "We will continue to pick up the pieces the best we can and continue to give a great education to kids."

Authorities plan to present a case against Balman to the District Attorney's Office later this week.

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