Phoenix teacher accused of luring former student

PHOENIX - Phoenix police say a north Phoenix middle school teacher is jailed after being arrested on suspicion of a sex crime involving a former student.

According to police, a 61-year-old teacher was arrested following an investigation that began Tuesday after another teacher at Centennial Middle School reported seeing the suspect inappropriately close to a student.

According to police, the investigation turned up evidence that the suspect and a former student allegedly exchanged hundreds of text messages in which sexual conduct was solicited and offered.

Kyrene School District Superintendent David Schauer sent a note to parents Friday morning identifying the teacher as James Giannopoulos.

The school said the teacher is not allowed on district property and has not been to work since Monday.

"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," the district said in a note to parents.

“This is an excellent school and an excellent school district and so we're very sad an individual would have accusations of this sorts,” said Kelly Alexander with the Kyrene School District. “The teachers are sad and concerned for the kids that they teach.”

According to court documents, the female student said she called Giannopolous "Grampa" and "Gino" and sometimes got rides to school with him, meeting him around the corner from her home so her parents wouldn't know.

Giannopolous was arrested on Thursday at his home in Gilbert.

According to the documents, the suspect denied having any sexual contact with the juvenile victim.

Police did not release the age of the former student but said she's under age 15.

It's not known whether the teacher has an attorney.

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