Claremore Daily Progress

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July 20, 2012

Teacher student incidents: Sex crimes spark safety awareness

CLAREMORE — Rogers County has recently seen an unusual increase in arrests for sexual assaults involving teachers and Sheriff Scott Walton is working to bring awareness to the issue.

In the past three months, three different teachers at Foyil and Claremore Sequoyah Public Schools were arrested for sex crimes against a minor.
The suspects had no prior arrests and normal background checks were conducted by the schools systems.
“The background checks are better now than they have ever been,” Walton said.
Yet, despite these efforts, the crimes were still committed leaving young victims and their families to deal with the aftermath.
Walton explains that this type of crime has not increased in Rogers County despite the recent arrests.
It is simply a matter of things coming to light at the same time, he explained.
Foyil Public Schools employed Jeffery Loveless Harris, 34, of Chelsea, at the time of his arrest.
Harris was arrested on May 24, on three counts of lewd or indecent proposals/acts to a child. Harris was employed in the alternative education department of Foyil schools.
Former Foyil High School basketball coach Jason Waide Ward, 37, of Claremore was formally charged with rape by instrumentation, two counts of lewd molestation and one count of sodomy.
Ward was arrested May 30, just one week after Harris.
Mark Thomas Buchanan, 34, a Claremore Sequoyah middle school choir teacher, was arrested July 9 after   deputies were contacted by his wife, whom he had reportedly told of a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old female victim.
Buchanan was booked into Rogers County Jail on 18 sex crimes complaints, including four counts of first-degree rape, six counts of making lewd and indecent proposals to a child and eight counts of sodomy of a victim under the age of 16.
Unexpected Crimes
These three arrests are examples of how unexpected this type crime can be.

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