CRIME

Child Abuse Charge Filed Against Former Granite School District Teacher

Nov 16, 2018, 7:14 PM | Updated: 8:22 pm

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah – Prosecutors have filed a child abuse charge against a former Granite School District teacher for inappropriate text messages allegedly sent to a teenage girl.

District spokesperson Ben Horsley said a 15-year-old girl told her parents she had gotten inappropriate text messages from her former teacher, 40-year-old Brian Fries.

Fries had been a social studies teacher at Bennion Junior High School until his resignation last week.

“We do see that grooming (behavior) occurring in the texts very clearly, and so that obviously causes concern for us,” Horsley said.

According to a probable-cause statement in the court documents, an officer with the Granite School District Police Department wrote that Fries sent 168 text messages to the girl between March and September 2018.

One text the officer allegedly wrote read, “Do you want to make out?”

The officer said there was a second text, saying that the question had been meant for someone else. However, police said Fries sent a text the next day saying, “OK here is my secret: that text I sent you the other day was not sent to the wrong person. I just felt stupid/really stupid. Lol.”

Police said the student replied, “You meant to sent it?” and they said Fries replied, “Yeah.”

Investigators said Fries admitted to them that he sent the initial text asking if the girl wanted to make out, but also it was meant for someone else. He denied sending the follow-up text.

They said he consented to a search of his phone, where police reportedly found evidence that Fries was in a sexual relationship with a former student who was then 18 years old and had graduated from high school.

Police said they interviewed her and she told them she had asked Fries if he ever had feelings about other students. She said he told her he was attracted to three other students.

One of those students told police Fries had sent her messages on Twitter, saying she was beautiful and that he had dreamed that they made out.

Police said one message read, “I guess I shouldn’t really be flirting with you since you aren’t even 18 yet.”

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office has filed a charge of child abuse. In the probable-cause statement, the officer said one of the girls was experiencing anxiety and had stopped going to school regularly because of the situation.

“While there was not severe physical contact there, or any physical contact in this particular case as far as we were able to ascertain, there was emotional distress caused, which is still a crime,” Horsely said.

Horsley said Fries was put on leave on September 21 and submitted his resignation on November 5. He had been a teacher in the district for seven years.

Fries declined to comment when reached at his home Friday afternoon. A hearing has been scheduled for December 19.

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Child Abuse Charge Filed Against Former Granite School District Teacher