PHOENIX — A math teacher at a Phoenix elementary school has been accused of groping students in his class for the past two years, according to court documents.
Phoenix police report that they arrested 49-year-old Manuel Gavina on Tuesday at his home near 21st Avenue and Thomas Road.
Court records show that on Monday, a 12-year-old girl reported multiple incidents of Gavina touching her over her clothes during his math class. She told him to stop, but the touching continued, according to police.
Police say two additional victims, who are now 14 years old, also disclosed similar incidents happening over the past two years. Court records show that all the events were reported to school officials, but did not disclose which school Gavina worked at.
Upon his arrest, Gavina allegedly said there was a fourth student who also complained about his touching her breasts.
Gavina reportedly confirmed to police that his accusers were students in his math class, and spoke about how he may have accidentally touched them with his elbow.
Court records show that Gavina was confronted about the incidents by his wife and a co-worker, but agreed that the touching has not stopped.
When asked how many times he has groped his students, he allegedly replied, "hundreds of times."
Gavina was given a $75,000 bond for three counts of sexual abuse.
In a statement to ABC15 on Tuesday, a Phoenix Elementary District #1 spokesperson said:
On December 9th, our school principal received a report from a student of inappropriate touching. The principal immediately followed the process for “duty to report” and Phoenix Police Department was contacted. The teacher was put on leave and had not returned to the campus.
The District learned of additional allegations through the media today. The District had requested all documentation from the police investigation, which is ongoing. The District is carefully investigating the allegations regarding prior school years. At this time, the current District administration has no knowledge of allegations prior to December 9, 2019, when the principal followed the duty to report.