A 3rd grade teacher in Hummelstown, Pa. has been charged following inappropriate contact with five female students, reports WNEP 16.
James William Mentzer, 39, has been charged with institutional sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault, and five counts of corruption of minors. The victims were ages 8, 9, and three were 11-years-old at the time of the alleged contact, according to police.
The investigation began on Feb. 16 2018, when police were notified about suspected contact between Mentzer and the students over a 5 month period, according to the criminal complaint. After reviewing the complaints, it was determined that Mentzer asked each student to come to his classroom from other classes, when those classes were being monitored by substitute teachers. During that time, he reportedly recorded videos of the victims for an unknown project that was not part of any official curriculum, WNEP 16 reports.
Mentzer reportedly recorded the students with a classroom iPad or laptop while they read. He also reportedly had some of the students put on a puppet show, and attempted to hypnotize them with a necklace. When asked, Mentzer could not produce the videos, he said that the camera didn’t work properly, reports WNEP 16 .
Two of the victims told their parents, who told the school, about Mentzer’s strange behavior.
One of the victims told police that Mentzer stopped her in the hallway before recess and asked her to help him with a project in his classroom. Mentzer was alone with the victim and reportedly asked her to read from a book and act it out as a giraffe puppet. According to the victim, Mentzer got upset when she didn’t read as the giraffe.
Mentzer also rubbed the victim’s leg, from her knee to her groin area, ignoring her requests to stop. He would also rub her arm, and allegedly told the victim to look at objects around the room as he did so in an attempt to distract her, according to WNEP 16.
The other victims reported similar incidents when interviewed by police.
Mentzer is set to be arraigned on Thursday.
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