Former Sapulpa Middle School Teacher of the Year arrested on molestation charges
Begines is being charged with one count of lewd molestation against a 12-year-old student.
A former Sapulpa Middle School Teacher of the Year has been arrested on charges of lewd molestation, according to Sapulpa Police on Tuesday.
Benjamin Begines, 33, was a geography teacher at Sapulpa Middle School until early February, when he resigned unexpectedly. When Sapulpa Times inquired into the reasoning behind his resignation, we were told that it was “ongoing personnel matter” and that they’d be unable to comment at this time. Now, more than a month later, we’re finding out more about his resignation.
According to police affidavits, they were notified by a School Resource Officer about a possible child abuse complaint between Begines and a 12-year-old female student. In the complaint, the victim alleged that Begines had followed her into a closet and put his hand down her shirt. According to the arrest affidavit, The victim said he whispered, “You’re going to get me in so much trouble.”
The victim disclosed the incident to a peer, who also reported experiencing inappropriate behavior by Begines.
In addition to the closet incident, the first victim reported experiencing other inappropriate touching by Begines. She said that often, while she sat at her desk doing schoolwork, the defendant would stand next to her and rub or touch his genital area against her arm or shoulder while acting like he was checking on her work. She also said he frequently looked down her shirt while standing over her at her desk. She said he would sometimes pretend to pick “lint” off of her shirt and touch her chest over her clothing, according to police reports.
The second victim reported experiencing similar behaviors, mostly during the previous school year. She said the defendant would touch his genital area against her arm or shoulder while he stood at her desk where she sat doing her work. She said he would look down her shirt while he stood over her.
Both girls said they changed their style of clothing to prevent the defendant from looking down their shirts. They told detectives about his fake Instagram account that he uses to follow students’ personal lives anonymously, then mention their posts during class.
According to the affidavit, Detective Shawn Hayes interviewed the defendant in the presence of his attorney. Begines admitted it was not normal for students to go into his closet and said he was in the closet with the victims for no more than a minute each time. Hayes asked Begines if he would rub himself against either of the victims and Begines said, “I don’t recall…”
In response to the accusations of looking down their shirt, Begines responded “No, most of the time they have chromebooks and I may come around and look at that but that’s it.” When asked if he brushed against the girls, his crotch area touching their bodies while they sat at their desks, he replied, “No, my desks are fairly close together but I don’t recall any brushing up.”
Begines said that he does have a fake Instagram account that he uses to follow students, but he does not comment or interact with students in any way online. He admits to commenting about various Instagram posts during class, but he does this to teach “digital citizenship” to students, so they can learn that what they put out on the internet is “out there” for everyone to see.
In December of 2017, Begines was awarded Sapulpa Middle School “Teacher of the Year.” He was described by the school as someone who taught geography with “passion and excitement,” and they said that he was “SMS’ most sarcastic, wise-cracking teacher.”
Begines was arrested on Tuesday afternoon and is currently sitting in the Creek County Justice Center. He has no previous criminal history.