Gilbert Junior High teacher accused of 'inappropriate relationship with a student'

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Benjamin Maleek Bedell, 37 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Benjamin Maleek Bedell, 37 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

A Gilbert Junior High School teacher accused of having an “inappropriate relationship with a student” is facing misdemeanor charges of endangerment of a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Benjamin Maleek Bedell, 37, was arrested at the school Monday morning. In a letter sent to parents, the principal said he was not teaching at the time.

Gilbert Public Schools released a statement on Tuesday.

“Yesterday, we were informed of allegations of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student at Gilbert Junior High School. Gilbert Public Schools takes these accusations extremely seriously and the safety and support of our students is always the first priority. The teacher in question was immediately removed from campus.  The investigation is now in the hands of law enforcement. Principal Sam Valles sent a letter to parents yesterday afternoon.”

Police learned about the situation on Friday and spoke with the victim.

“She disclosed having an inappropriate on and off again relationship with Bedell since 2015,” reads the probable cause for arrest statement. “The victim disclosed she communicated with him via email from approximately August of 2015 to January 2016.

“Some of their emails were normal conversation and some had sexual connotations,” the court paperwork continues. “They also exchanged photos. One of the photos she sent him was of her in a bra. None of the photos exchanged were disclosed to be a sexually exploitive in nature.”

Police said Bedell, who has been with Gilbert Public Schools for 13 years, asked the victim to email him. The two met a few days later, leaving the campus after school “to talk.”

“Bedell intended to end their relationship and they kissed,” according to court paperwork.

The police had the victim talk to Bedell as part of a one-party consent call.

In Arizona, a phone call can be legally recorded if one party to the conversation consent. Nearly a dozen other states require all parties to agree to be recorded.

Police said during that recorded conversation, Bedell admitted having a relationship with the girl and kissing her.

“He instructed the victim to not tell anyone about their relationship if questioned and told her they needed to protect each other,” the arrested officer wrote in the probable cause for arrest statement.

When officers tried to interview Bedell after arresting him, he immediately invoked his right to have an attorney present while being questioned.

One day after arresting Bedell, officers arrested a second Gilbert Junior High employee for alleged sexual conduct with a minor. Police said the cases do not appear to be connected.

[READ: Gilbert Junior HS softball coach accused of sexual conduct with minor]

Gilbert Junior High School is one of Gilbert Public Schools' six junior highs. According to the school's website, 600 students are enrolled.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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