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Fri, Oct. 18

AAEC principal ‘surprised’ at sex charges against teacher
Background check came up clear on teacher accused of sexual conduct with a minor

Michael O'Boyle. (La Paz County Sheriff's Office)

Michael O'Boyle. (La Paz County Sheriff's Office)

Prescott Valley charter school, Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center (AAEC), conducts background checks on all their teachers.

And when social studies teacher Michael O’Boyle was hired in 2014, the school obtained a clear fingerprint check on O’Boyle from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

But on Friday, June 22, after an investigation into allegations of a sexual relationship, the La Paz County Attorney’s Office filed 16 felony counts of sexual conduct with a minor against the teacher, who is 35.

Detective Jeremy Johnson, of the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Unit, said Monday, June 25, the alleged incidents occurred five years ago when O’Boyle was a history teacher at Salome High School.

“There were no charges filed at the time. For us to file charges, there’s got to be a victim and there was no victim that came forward,” Johnson said.

He confirmed the victim, a former student at Salome High School, was 17 at the time.

Sgt. Jason Kaufman, public information officer with Prescott Valley Police Department (PVPD), said after speaking with La Paz County detectives, the alleged incidents occurred between August 2012 and December 2012. A previous report was taken in La Paz County, but the victim was not very cooperative, Kaufman said.

According to the June 22 press release posted on the La Paz County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, detectives were notified of the alleged sexual relationship in April. This past week, PVPD personnel arrested O’Boyle, a Prescott Valley resident, without incident.

AAEC Principal Patrick Wellert sent letters to parents Monday morning notifying them of the arrest, and that the alleged conduct did not occur during O’Boyle’s employment at AAEC.

“Please know that AAEC fully vets all employees prior to hiring, including obtaining a fingerprint clearance card from the Arizona Department of Public Safety and verification of the absence of criminal history,” the letter stated.

Wellert said the school is following the case and will take appropriate action as deemed necessary in the best interests of the school community. He encourages anyone with questions or concerns to contact him at 928-775-3200 or pwellert@aaechighschools.com.

“It (news of the arrest) happened over the weekend, and the teachers haven’t been here for two weeks. Personally, I was surprised as everyone else,” Wellert said.

Brian Snoddy, AAEC director of academic services, said school starts back on Aug. 6, which allows some time for detectives to look into the matter, and the district will continue to monitor the situation as best it can.

Detective Johnson said the investigation is ongoing, and the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous calls relating to the charges.

“We have to make sure the stuff is credible before we release any further information to the public,” he said.

Johnson also stated, with coordination with Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, O’Boyle will be transferred to the La Paz County Jail.

Anyone with information pertaining to this investigation is urged to contact La Paz County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jeremy Johnson, at 928-669-9645.

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