A Boiling Springs man who was a student teacher at a local high school is accused of soliciting sex from a ninth grader, police said.
Spartanburg police said Benjamin Arthur, 26, is a student at USC Upstate pursuing an education degree and was student teaching at Spartanburg High School Freshman Academy when met the student whom he sent the explicit messages.
Police said Arthur met the girl while student teaching and his last day was Friday. School district officials said Arthur sent the first of multiple lewd messages at 9:18 p.m. on Friday then sent more on Saturday.
According to Tammy Whaley, assistant vice chancellor for university communications at USC Upstate, there was nothing Arthur had done during before or during his student-teaching assignment to indicate the potential for "this kind of behavior."
"He did a good job in student teaching according to his university supervisor and his cooperating high school teacher," Whaley said.
Whaley said the USC Upstate School of Education has a thorough and extensive program where faculty members observe their teacher candidates' behaviors and interactions with other students. She said they work with classroom teachers in at least three clinical settings prior to student teaching and the they are taught the Teacher's Code of Ethics, as well as the legal aspects of teacher-student behavior.
Education majors must pass State Law Enforcement Division background checks and the National Sex Offender Data Base before they are allowed to begin student teaching, Whaley said.
Whaley said Arthur's conversations with the victim started casual and escalated. According to Whaley, Arthur was scheduled to graduate on Dec. 18 but now faces disciplinary sanctions and his graduation status is on hold until his case comes to trial.
FOX Carolina received the following statement from Spartanburg School District Seven's Superintendent Russell Booker regarding Arthur's arrest:
"Our primary concern at this point is the welfare of the student. Protecting our students and staff is our paramount duty. This individual has been prohibited from our school grounds and any school sponsored functions. We remain in close contact with local law enforcement and officials from USC Upstate."
School district officials said Arthur attended all staff development meetings prior to starting as a student-teacher, including reviewing the district's Professional Personnel Code of Ethics.
Arthur was arrested on Sunday and charged with criminal solicitation of a minor. He was later released on bond.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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