A Derby North Middle School teacher caught up in a Wisconsin sting operation targeting perpetrators of Internet crimes against children was arrested on suspicion of electronic solicitation of a 14- to 16-year-old child.
Steven Eugene Young, 40, was arrested and booked into jail Monday and was still being held Tuesday afternoon, according to an online log of inmates at the jail. He was suspended from work pending the outcome of the investigation, district officials said.
Young teaches eighth-grade social studies, Derby school district spokeswoman Katie Carlson said. A biography of Young on the school’s website says he has been a teacher for 15 years and has previously worked at Derby Middle School.
Under Kansas law, electronic solicitation of a child is when an adult communicates with a child via telephone, text message, social media, Internet chat room or other method and tries to entice or solicit the child into performing or engaging in some sort of sexual activity. It is a child sex crime.
Det. Lt. Chris Braman with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office in Oshkosh, Wis., said one of his agency’s investigators who was posing as a 14-year-old girl online came across Young in a chatroom-style setting up to 10 days ago.
The Wisconsin sheriff’s office is a member of the national Internet Crimes Against Children organization and has a crime analyst who monitors chatrooms and online communities known to draw adults who prey on children, he said.
Although Braman wouldn’t go into specifics about the interactions that ensued between Young and the investigator, he did say that the conversations eventually “went outside of the chatroom setting.”
The Wisconsin sheriff’s office contacted Derby police on Monday about the case. The crime that Young is under suspicion of locally happened “within the last few days,” Braman said.
Other than the current ongoing investigation, he said he wasn’t aware of any other allegations of illegal Internet activity involving Young.
Young was arrested at 3:15 p.m. Monday at Derby North Middle School, 3100 N. Rock Road, then taken to the Derby Police Department for questioning. He was booked into Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of electronic solicitation of a child about 2 1/2 hours later, according to online jail records.
As of Tuesday, Young had not been formally charged. Jail records listed no bond amount for him Tuesday afternoon.
Derby police Chief Robert Lee said his department plans to present their case against the teacher to prosecutors this week. In the meantime, “we continue to work the case. We’re gathering facts and information as we go,” he said.
Young could appear in Sedgwick County District Court as early as Wednesday afternoon.
Braman, the Winnebago County sheriff’s detective lieutenant, said Young also could face criminal charges in Wisconsin. Those charges would be for “using a computer to facilitate some type of sex crime,” he said.
The investigation is ongoing, he said, adding: “We have a significant amount of evidence related to this case already.”
Carlson, the Derby schools spokeswoman, said the following message was sent Tuesday morning to parents of Derby North Middle School students via the district’s Skylert system:
“A Derby North Middle School staff member was arrested Monday afternoon on allegations of criminal activity. He was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. We will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure we have accurate information and to ensure that our students remain safe at school.”
Contributing: Suzanne Perez Tobias of The Eagle