By Myrna Trauntvein
Hadley Christensen, 38, a fifth-grade teacher at Red Cliff's Elementary School, was charged in 4th District Court this week with aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.
Christensen, who has been both a wrestling coach and an elementary school teacher in the Juab School District for the past 11 years was arrested Christmas Eve after police say he molested a former student.
Charges against Christensen were filed following a sleepover with Christensen's daughter and her 11-year-old friend at his Nephi home on December 22.
A probable cause statement was filed by the Utah County Sheriff's Office in which it was reported that Christensen was his daughter's friend's fifth grade teacher for the school year 2011-2012.
Dr. Jim Shank, Juab School District superintendent, said Christensen was suspended from his teaching position with the district pending completion of the investigation.
"The case will not be tried by the Juab County Attorney's office," said Jared Eldridge, Juab County Attorney.
No further comments will be made by his office, he said.
Because Christensen is so well-known in Juab County, it was requested that Utah County Sheriff's Office conduct the investigation to avoid any possible conflict of interest. For the same reason, the Utah County Attorney will serve as prosecutor rather than Eldridge.
Fourth District Court covers both Juab and Utah County.
Utah County Sheriff's Office did the investigation from the beginning when Nephi City Police Department decided to have an outside agency assist.
The Utah County Attorney's Office was contacted by Eldridge separately when he decided to have an outside office conduct the prosecution.
"We have nothing to make us believe that anything we've been told by the victim is not accurate," said Sgt. Spencer Cannon, Utah County Sheriff's Office.
On Thursday, a first appearance was held in Fourth District Court at 9 a.m.
At such an appearance, the court reads the charging document (the information) or has the defendant waive the in-court reading.
Christensen was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in February at this appearance.
An affidavit of probable cause is a sworn statement, typically made by a police officer, that outlines the factual justification for why a judge should consent to an arrest or search warrant or why an arrest made during a crime-in-progress was based on solid evidence that the person in custody is the person who is likely to have committed the crime.
In this case's affidavit of probable cause statement, it was reported that, during the night of the sleepover, Christensen gave his daughter's friend a pill for her headache.
"She said the pill was not one she had seen before," stated the probable cause statement.
The girl reported the problem after returning home.
In the probable cause statement, it was disclosed that the girl reported to police that she had awakened in the middle of the night to find Christensen inappropriately touching her.
"She was scared at this time and pretended to be sleeping," according to the affidavit.
December 23, after visiting Central Valley Medical Center the girl was sent to Primary Children's Medical Center.
Primary Children's Hospital found physical evidence that could have been caused by the abuse described to them, according to the police affidavit.
Medical tests found anti-depressants in her system, consistent with her story, according to the statement. Doctors reported evidence of tricyclic antidepressants in her system.
Her family indicated that the victim did not have a prescription for medication of that type.
The girl told an investigator from the Division of Child and Family Services that she was staying the night at her friend's home at the time of the alleged abuse.
The girl also identified her friend's father as Christensen.
The probable cause statement indicated that Christensen, when first interviewed by law enforcement officers, denied giving the girl any medication or inappropriately touching her.
"After awhile he requested to stop talking and that he wanted his attorney," the affidavit states.
Christensen was booked into the Juab County Jail on December 24 and posted bail that same evening.
The Juab School District sent a letter home to the parents of students in Christensen's classroom following his arrest. The letter asked parents to step forward if they have any information about Christensen.
Juab School District Superintendent Jim Shank said that Christensen has been suspended from his job at Red Cliffs Elementary pending the outcome of the investigation and that his students and their parents have been notified of the arrest.
Christensen was charged in 4th District Court this week with aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony and, if convicted, could face a sentence of life in prison.
At a first appearance, the judge makes certain that the defendant's address and date of birth are correct. Then the defendant may choose to have a waiver hearing or go straight to a preliminary hearing.