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Orem police admit to failing to notify school district of teacher arrest

Posted at 3:46 PM, Aug 25, 2022

OREM, Utah — The Orem Police Department is admitting it failed to properly notify the Alpine School District that one of its teachers was being investigated on sexual exploitation charges involving a minor.

In a release sent Thursday afternoon, the department said that during a review of the arrest of teacher Andrew Walsh, "it came to light that our agency failed to notify Alpine School District in a timely manner."

Police interviewed Walsh on Aug. 15 where he admitted to exchanging nude photos with the 16-year-old who he knew was a minor. He also told investigators that he had set up a meeting with the boy.

Alpine School District’s first day of school was two days after the interview.

When the district was made aware of the arrest, Walsh was placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He’s been with the school district since 2016.

Orem police said it is examining its procedures to makes sure school administrators are made aware of incidents “as soon as possible.”

Laurieann Thorpe, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah, said the lack of communication is “an example of a system’s failure.”

“It’s all adults’ responsibility to keep a child safe. It’s not a child’s responsibility to keep the child safe, it’s adults’ responsibility,” she said.

She said 90% of children who are sexually abused are victims of people they know or trust.

“You can interrupt a grooming cycle if a child can communicate with you before things go to that point,” Thorpe said.

She said prevention is possible if you talk about it early and talk about it often.

“Often we’ll talk with kids and we’ll say, ‘This is what sexual abuse is,’ and they had no idea. Then they’ll say, ‘Well, that’s happening to me,’” she said.

Those conversations can be uncomfortable, but they are important. That’s why Prevent Child Abuse Utah offer prevention kits to help families navigate the best ways to talk about abuse and teach kids the signs of it.

Walsh, who has been with the district since 2016, was placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Orem police said it is examining its procedures to makes sure school administrators are made away of incidents as soon as possible.