UNION — A 16-year-old juvenile has been arrested and charged in connection with an incident involving a former teacher’s cellphone.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, the Union Public Safety Office announced that the juvenile is charged with the following:
1. Computer Crimes Act — Section 16-16-20 (b) (ii) of the S.C. Code of Laws
2. Aggravated Voyeurism — Section 16-17-470 (C) of the S.C. Code of Laws.
The press release states that “the charge of Computer Crimes is a result of the juvenile accessing the personal information of the cell phone without authorization.”
It states that “the charge of Aggravated Voyeurism is a result of the copying and dissemination of the teacher’s photographs. A forensic investigation of the juvenile’s phone performed by S.L.E.D. revealed the photographs taken from the teacher’s phone were stored in a separate passcode protected file that contained other photographs of a sexual nature.
The press release states that the juvenile is being detained at the Department of Juvenile Justice Center in Columbia.
The juvenile is charged in connection with an incident involving a cellphone belonging to Leigh Anne Arthur who at the time was a teacher at the Union County Career Center.
An incident report Arthur filed with the Public Safety Department states that the incident occurred on Feb. 18 between 1:55 p.m. and 1:59 p.m. The report states that Arthur “had her cellphone in her classroom and when she walked out of the classroom a male student went over to where her cellphone was and began to go through the pictures that were in the cellphone. The cellphone was not stolen but she (Arthur) was upset that the student was looking at her cellphone. The cellphone is her cellphone and it was her classroom and no one should be looking at her cellphone.”
Earlier this week, Public Safety Director Sam White said investigator got a search warrant for the juvenile’s cellphone and, after obtaining it, turned it over to the SLED computer forensic team for analysis.”
Arthur, who taught Mechatronics at the career center, said earlier this week she was forced to resign in the aftermath of the incident which she said occurred when she inadvertently left her cell phone on her desk for a few minutes while she went out to monitor students in the halls between classes. She said that the school district requires teachers to be out in the halls supervising students as they go from class to class and she said that’s what she was doing. Arthur said that her focus on doing her job as required by the district caused her to forget that she had left her cell phone on her desk. She said it was during those few minutes that she was out in the hall that the student got her cell phone and began getting pictures off of it.
The pictures were described by Arthur as personal ones that she’d taken of herself which she intended for her husband for Valentine’s Day. She said that in time between when she took them and the day of the incident she’d forgotten the pictures were still on her phone.
Arthur said that after getting the pictures off her phone, the student had told her that she was in for a “day of reckoning,” She said he then began sharing those pictures with other students, some of whom came and told her what was happening.
The incident came to the attention of the Union County School District and Arthur said that while she was the victim, she was told by District Superintendent Dr. David Eubanks that she would have to resign because she had left her cell phone where it was within easy access of students.
While she complied and turned in her resignation, Arthur said that her being forced to resign is unfair as she was the victim. She said at the time that the situation was even more unfair because the student who invaded her privacy had not been punished and was still in school.
More recently, Arthur has filed an incident report with the Union County Sheriff’s Office about what the report describes as “harassing material” in her mailbox.
The report states that a deputy was dispatched on March 1 to Arthur’s in reference to the harassing material. Arthur states that her husband had checked the mail at 5 p.m. and underneath the regular mail was the harassing correspondence. The deputy collected the harassing correspondence as evidence and forwarded the case for continued investigation.
In the wake of the announcement of the arrest, Union County School District Superintendent Dr. David Eubanks issued the following statement:
“It is my understanding that one student has been charged with the crime of transmitting pornographic material using electronic media. The exact charges have not been provided to the school district by local police who have been involved with this incident from the start. The student will now also face possible expulsion from the school District.
“It is truly unfortunate that a teacher charged with proper supervision and care of students failed to fulfill that responsibility in her classroom. Evidence indicates that Leigh Anne Arthur was not in her assigned position at the time of the incident. Evidence also indicates that she allowed students to use her personal cell phone on a regular and routine basis. Evidence also indicates that the phone was routinely left on her desk for student use and was never locked.
“Ms. Arthur has used the media to transmit false information obviously intended for the purpose of deflecting the incident totally to students. The evidence available points to the extent of her false statements.
“Her failure to supervise her students along with allowing students routine access to her personal cell phone constitute an evident unfitness for Ms. Arthur to continue as a classroom teacher. We are not aware of charges that may be filed against Ms. Arthur. We do know that her failure to properly supervise students entrusted to her care will negatively impact the lives of students and their parents.”
Arthur could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.