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Thu, Oct. 17

Former PHS teacher accused in child sex case tells judge he's broke

Mark Dean Morgan

Mark Dean Morgan

PRESCOTT - Mark D. Morgan, a former teacher at Prescott High School who is now fighting charges that he engaged in sexual conduct with two underage girls, told a judge on Monday that he has no money and needs court-appointed legal assistance.

Morgan, 41, is accused of sexually related acts with his former live-in girlfriend's two minor daughters. Detectives believe the alleged crimes first occurred in January 2011 and continued through December 2012. The girlfriend and her daughters no longer live with or have a relationship with Morgan, according to Prescott Police Department Lt. Ken Morley. At the time of his arrest, police also reported an alleged illegal firearm in the home.

Police booked Morgan into the Yavapai County jail in Prescott on charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child, aggravated luring of a minor for sexual exploitation and misconduct involving weapons. The arrest warrant for Morgan included a total of seven felonies.

Morgan worked as a student science teacher for the high school during the fall of 2012. He was hired to teach science in spring of 2013, Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Dave Smucker said, and was placed on administrative leave in August 2013 when school officials became aware of the police investigation. Morgan had also been involved in the school's athletic program for the last four years.

He was fired from the district in October 2013.

The charges that led to his arrest are not connected to misconduct at the school or while coaching, Morley said.

Monday, his attorney handed Superior Court Judge Jennifer B. Campbell a motion stating that Morgan was indigent and would need court-appointed legal assistance. Campbell agreed to the request.

She had planned to use Monday's time to hold a settlement conference, typically a step toward a plea agreement. However, Deputy County Attorney Kevin Schiff said he couldn't make an offer until a computer forensic lab in Phoenix had returned results on a computer that could include evidence related to Morgan's case.

He said that he expected to have the results already, but that the case was continually being "bumped back" by the lab for other cases with a higher priority.

Campbell asked if an order from the court demanding the results by a deadline would put the case higher on the list and Schiff said it likely would.

She asked if 30 days would be enough for the lab to do the work. Schiff said, "It should have been done 30 days ago," so he felt that was reasonable.

Further witness interviews also need to be done, and Campbell ordered those be completed by Aug. 11.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @AZNewsguy

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