EUREKA, Mo. — A custodian at Eureka High School was charged with sexual abuse after police said he inappropriately touched a student with Down syndrome last week.
Robert Smith, 50, was charged with first-degree sexual abuse in connection with the alleged incident on Feb. 11.
A press release from St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell's office said Smith "touched the genitals of a victim over the victim's clothing," according to a probable cause statement from the Eureka Police Department. The press release said the incident happened in Eureka but did not specify where.
The press release said the victim could not give consent because the victim has Down syndrome and is non-verbal.
"We have a special obligation to take care of the most vulnerable in our society," Bell said in the release. "Anyone who takes advantage of an individual with special needs in St. Louis County will be held accountable by this office."
In a letter to parents, interim Rockwood Superintendent Tim Ricker said the district was made aware of the arrest of a member of its custodial team at Eureka High School. A spokesman for Bell's office confirmed that the arrest mentioned in the letter was that of Smith.
"The allegation is related to an incident involving a student," the letter said. "This employee is currently suspended without pay and prohibited from being on district property."
Smith's bond was set at $300,000, online court documents said.
The full letter sent to parents is as follows:
Dear Rockwood Parents and Guardians:
The Rockwood School District is committed to providing a safe learning environment for our students and staff. Part of that commitment is notifying our school community of events that potentially affect the safety and well-being of our students.
I am reaching out to you today to share some upsetting news with you. We were informed by the Eureka Police Department that a member of our custodial team at Eureka High School has been arrested for sexual abuse. The allegation is related to an incident involving a student. This employee is currently suspended without pay and prohibited from being on district property.
The safety of our students is at the forefront of all that we do. All RSD employees must submit to and pass a criminal background check as a condition of employment. I can assure you we are working in full cooperation with law enforcement, as well as taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our students.
I know that any allegation of this type is very troubling news to process, and we share your concern as parents and educators. I am truly sorry that our community will be impacted by this news, but please know we will continue to work together to ensure all students are safe and cared for and realize their full potential.
Tim Ricker, Ed. D. Interim Superintendent