Ex-Utah principal arrested in child sex abuse

SALT LAKE CITY — A former principal at an award-winning charter school in Utah has been arrested on charges of sexually abusing boys over the past 35 years, according to authorities.

Charles Weber, 65, was arrested Monday in southwestern Utah, court documents show.

He faces six felony counts involving the sexual abuse of two boys. But authorities fear there may be more victims considering Weber was an educator for 40 years.

“He had access to so many children for so long,” said Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah Attorney General’s Office. “The potential is frightening.”

A joint state and federal investigation began when a 48-year-old man told the FBI that he had been abused in the mid-1970s while he was an 11-year-old student of Weber’s.

Weber acknowledged to FBI agents that he had sexually abused “several young boys” over the past 35 years, according to court documents. FBI agents said they talked with Weber at his house in South Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City.

Weber said he most recently sexually abused a 15-year-old boy from January through April 2012, court documents show. The teenager, who is a relative of Weber’s, had been a student at the Soldier Hollow Charter School in Midway, where Weber was principal.

Weber was in police custody and unavailable for comment Tuesday. It was unknown whether he’d been assigned an attorney.

After Weber found out about the investigation, he fled south, court documents show. He was arrested Monday afternoon near the town of St. George by Washington County sheriff’s deputies. He was booked into county jail on a $1 million bond.

He was being transferred Tuesday to Wasatch County Jail, in the northern part of the state where his warrant was issued.

Weber was fired from the school in August after seven years as principal for reasons unrelated to these allegations, said David Sullivan, chairman of the Soldier Hollow School Board. There was no single reason, but the board wanted to bring in new principal with fresh ideas, he said.

Midway is a town of nearly 4,000 people located about 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City on the other side of the Wasatch Mountains.

The school was one of two in the state in 2011 to earn national recognition from the U.S. Department of Education for academic success. Started in 1999, it is a kindergarten through eighth-grade school with 280 students and 14 teachers.

Parents and teachers were stunned to find out Monday night about the arrest, Sullivan said.

“It kind of sends your world into a tailspin,” said Sullivan, whose sons attend the school. “I was deeply hurt, saddened and shocked.”

Sullivan sent an email to parents Tuesday night, informing them of the arrest and encouraging them to report any other abuses to authorities. He has not been made aware of any other victims, he said.

Sullivan said he is concerned about the loss of trust parents are feeling and damage to the school’s reputation. The school is providing resources to parents to help them sort through emotions and talk with their children, he said.

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