Phoenix teacher arrested after inappropriate text messages found

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James Giannopoulos, 60 By Mike Gertzman James Giannopoulos, 60 By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix middle school teacher was arrested after he allegedly exchanged inappropriate text messages with a former student.

James Giannopoulos, 60, was booked into the Maricopa County Jail and faces one count of luring a minor for sexual exploitation. He is being held on $15,000 bond.

Officials at Kyrene Centennial Middle School contacted the school resource officer after another teacher reported seeing Giannopoulos inappropriately close to a student in his classroom, according to Sgt. Tommy Thompson with the Phoenix Police Department.

Giannopoulos was placed on administrative leave on Monday and detectives from the Family Investigations Bureau began an investigation.

According to court documents, the victim is an eighth-grade student and Giannopoulos was her teacher in sixth grade.

In an interview with police, the victim said that Giannopoulos would give her rides to school and he would park around the corner from her house so her parents wouldn't know. The victim also said she calls Giannopoulos "Grampa" and "Gino" and he has introduced her as his granddaughter even though it is not true.

Detectives discovered that Giannopoulos and the student had exchanged hundreds of text messages, according to Thompson. He said many of them offered or solicited sexual conduct.

Giannopoulos was arrested at his Gilbert home and said that he knew it was wrong but couldn't control himself, according to Thompson.

In a letter sent to parents, Kyrene School District Superintendent David Schauer said he has enacted measures to ensure that Giannopoulos would not be permitted to return to any Kyrene property.

Part of the letter states, "Kyrene follows all standard safety procedures for teachers in Kyrene School District and they must hold a valid Fingerprint Clearance Card issued by the State of Arizona Department of Public Safety and a valid teacher certificate from the Arizona Department of Education. The District routinely audits clearance card records to ensure that they are current and remain valid. This was the case with Mr. Giannopoulos."