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crime and child safety

No charges filed in potential sex crimes case


BUCKEYE — A contractor photographer who was on a Buckeye school campus to take pictures near the start of the school year has been accused of sex crimes against at least one minor, according to the Liberty Elementary School District.
On Oct. 5, district Superintendent Lori Shough sent out a letter to parents about a Sept. 2 incident.

“Administration was made aware of allegations regarding a contracted photographer for school pictures. That photographer was on the campus of Freedom Elementary School last month, and as Buckeye Police have indicated, is accused of sexual offenses against minors,” Shough wrote. “The Buckeye Police Department was contacted directly by an individual regarding these allegations, at which point police informed the district. Buckeye Police are currently investigating and any updates regarding this matter will be provided by them.”

Buckeye Police spokesperson Carissa Planalp said Tuesday no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

Shough said as for the contracted photographer, the district canceled a scheduled “retake day” of school photos involving the accused individual.

“Furthermore, the district is putting on hold indefinitely any potential photography contracts with this company,” Shough wrote.

She also encouraged anyone with relevant information to call the Buckeye Police Department tip line at 623-349-6411.

“One of the most difficult things about these situations is that information is very limited. There is nothing more that can be shared at this time,” Shough wrote. “However, if you or your student has information regarding this investigation, we encourage you to call the tip line.”

LESD staff are committed to the safety of our students and expect all contractors to adhere to the highest ethical practices and conduct, Shough wrote.

“We will not tolerate behaviors that compromise the safety of our children,” she wrote.

Located within Buckeye’s Sundance development, Freedom is one of the district’s six regular elementary schools. LESD’s schools are in both Buckeye and Goodyear.

Liberty spokesperson Luke Garrison said the photographer was specifically contracted by the district to take school photos at Freedom Elementary. However, neither the district nor Buckeye Police would disclose the name of any people or companies that are part of the investigation.

He said the unidentified photographer had a clean record and the school has a kiosk wherein anyone who steps on the campus has to scan their driver’s license. The process does a quick background check, he said.

Garrison said there were three teachers and other photographers inside the area where the photography was taking place.

“Buckeye Police have been looking into this for a few weeks now,” Garrison added.