Crime & Courts

Maize High law enforcement teacher arrested on suspicion of unlawful sexual relations

A Maize High School teacher and former police officer was arrested on suspicion of sex crimes involving a student on Monday morning, jail records show.

Johnny Paul Yelverton, 44, was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail at 11:18 a.m. on Monday on suspicion of two counts of unlawful sexual relations and one count of failure to report suspected child abuse, according to jail records.

The Wichita police department did not name the suspect but said the arrest came after an investigation into possible sexual relations between the teacher and a 17-year-old student, Officer Charley Davidson said in a release.

A Maize High parent newsletter from August 2016 announced Yelverton's hiring as a fire science and law and public safety pathways teacher.

In an e-mail to families Monday, Maize superintendent Chad Higgins confirmed that a teacher had been arrested but did not name the person.

"The teacher, who teaches high school students from both Maize High School and Maize South High School at our Maize Career Academy, will not be permitted to return to work pending law enforcement investigation," Higgins said in the e-mail. "In the meantime, a substitute teacher will step in during these last few days of school.

"Maize USD 266 will cooperate fully with law enforcement officials and cannot provide further details on this case at this time. Our district also plans to conduct its own independent investigation," Higgins said.

According to the Maize High parent newsletter, Yelverton moved from Texas to Wichita after he was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base before working in law enforcement and fire service for 13 years.

Yelverton was a crew chief and intelligence analyst in the Air Force, Maize High's student news magazine, Play, reported in May 2017. He also worked for police, fire rescue and as a part-time EMT in Butler County.

“People are going to do stupid things,” Yelverton told Play. “But if you come through here, if I put your picture on my wall when you graduate, when you get into a uniform or something, and you fail me or you fail yourself or you fail your family or your community, that’s my biggest fear. To see your picture on the news when you have done something wrong.”

Yelverton was named the Kansas DARE Officer of the Year in 2015 when he worked as an officer in Augusta, the Butler County Times-Gazette reported at the time.

A volunteer chaplain for the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office was arrested during a prostitution investigation. Daniel Lee Syrcle was arrested Thursday on suspicion of purchasing sexual relations and official misconduct.

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