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US Marshals Service: Arizona teacher arrested, accused of having relationship with student

Justin Walters booking photo.jpg
Posted at 7:05 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 13:39:06-04

PHOENIX — An Arizona teacher under investigation for allegedly grooming and having a long-term inappropriate relationship with one of his students was arrested Wednesday in Chicago, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Justin Walters, 29, a teacher at Desert Garden Montessori School in Phoenix, faces 10 counts of sexual contact with a minor, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release.

Walters was arrested Wednesday at a home in Chicago and booked into the Kane County Jail in St. Charles, Illinois, where he will eventually be extradited to Maricopa County to face charges, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Detectives with the Phoenix Police Department interviewed Walters regarding the allegations earlier this year before he apparently left the state. Phoenix police contacted the U.S. Marshals Service to help locate him, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Through the investigation, detectives in Arizona learned that Walters booked a flight and traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, the U.S. Marshals Service said. At some point, officials learned he booked a return flight to Chicago, where he was later arrested.

ABC15 reached out to the Phoenix Police Department and Desert Garden Montessori on Wednesday for more information.

In a statement on Thursday morning, the school said Walters was a former employee and "has not been associated with the school since December of 2020."

The school said it did not have additional information to share and that it would cooperate with authorities and the investigation.

"Our students’ safety remains, above all, our highest priority and any threat to that safety is taken very seriously. Our attention remains with the well-being of our students, our staff and our community during this difficult time," the school said.

Editor's note: Thie story has been updated to include a statement from Desert Garden Montessori.