|Photo of Suspect, Thomas Washburn|
The victim, a 6-year-old female, was in class with 24 classmates on the afternoon of January 15. Washburn was reportedly upset and shouting in the class causing the victim to hide her face in the top of her shirt. The victim's mother described her daughter as "developmentally delayed" due to being born prematurely. It appears that based on shouting, the child was frightened and hiding in her shirt. When Washburn told her to take her face out of the shirt and she did not comply, he went to her and completely removed her shirt, leaving her naked from the waist up. The victim was left in that state for approximately 10 minutes crying as class continued. Eventually Washburn returned her clothing and that was the end of the incident.
When the victim's mother arrived after school to pick up the child, Washburn told the parent what he had done. She was extremely upset and immediately contacted the Principal's office. When staff learned of the incident, they contacted our department and the investigation was opened. Detectives interviewed the victim and her mother and confirmed what had happened. Washburn was at school late due to conferences and was contacted by detectives. He was transported to Mesa Police Headquarters to be interviewed. Washburn invoked his rights and declined to answer any questions. He was booked at that time for one count of Child Abuse and one count of Indecent Exposure C1M. At the time of the incident, there was one adult aide in the classroom.
This morning, detectives continued the investigation and ultimately added an additional 24 counts of Indecent Exposure C4F for each of the students present at the time of the incident. This investigation is ongoing, but at this time we unaware of any similar crimes of this nature in the classroom.
Mesa Public Schools and the Mesa Police Department are working cooperatively on the investigation to ensure that all available information is gathered and to ensure the safe education of the children attending the Mesa Public Schools.