An Arizona kindergarten teacher has been accused of child abuse and indecent exposure after forcing a student to take off her shirt as punishment.
Police in the Maricopa County city of Mesa told ABC that 54-year-old teacher Thomas Washburn reportedly forced a 6-year-old female student at Adams Elementary to remove her shirt after she hid her face inside her collar.
Washburn was allegedly angry, wildly shouting in the classroom at the students. This caused the 6-year-old student to bury her face inside her shirt in fear. Mesa police spokesperson Steve Berry told ABC that Washburn demanded the child take her face out of her shirt. When she refused, he took off her shirt and forced her to sit, naked from the waist up, for about 10 minutes.
Berry told ABC that Washburn continued conducting the class while the 6-year-old girl cried in her seat. He gave her the shirt back after about 10 minutes, and she put it back on.
When the child's mother came to pick her kid up from school, Washburn told her about the incident and his removal of the 6-year-old's shirt.
After the mother told the principal what happened, school authorities immediately called the police.
The mother reportedly described her child as "developmentally delayed," because she was born prematurely, ABC reported. The 6-year-old had a certain sensitivity to loud noises, and was scared of Washburn's shouting, causing her to put her face inside her shirt.
Washburn didn't offer comment after he was booked for one count of indecent exposure and one count of child abuse. 24 additional counts of indecent exposure were added on Thursday, after detectives factored in the number of students that were in the classroom at the time of the event. Berry added that an adult teacher's aide was also present, ABC reported.
Washburn, who has been working at the Elementary School since 2006 as a kindergarten teacher, has been placed on administrative leave. Mesa School District rep Helen Hollands told ABC that education officials are working with investigators on the case.