The Norman Transcript

February 26, 2013

Former teacher’s assistant charged with sexually abusing a child

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A preliminary hearing conference has been scheduled for a former Norman Public Schools teacher’s aide recently charged with sexually abusing a child.

Christopher Flores, 30, of Norman, was charged with two counts of lewd molestation or indecent proposal to a child earlier this month. A preliminary hearing conference for Flores is set for 1 p.m. today.

According to the affidavit filed with the charge, Flores admitted to touching the 9-year-old boy and relative on three separate occasions.

As of Monday, Flores remained in custody at Cleveland County jail. His bond was set at $150,000. He unsuccessfully sought release on a personal recognizance bond on Feb. 15.

“The recent charges brought against Mr. Flores have absolutely no connection to Norman Public Schools,” NPS spokeswoman Shelly Hickman said.

According to a civil lawsuit filed last week in Cleveland County District Court, Flores has a history of inappropriate conduct with children.

Complaints from Norman parents involving Flores began in 2002 when Tammy Maus reported him on an allegation of inappropriate behavior to a child, unrelated to Maus, who she knew through a professional relationship, she said.

“I reported it to the Cleveland County DHS office as well as to Norman Public School Administration, since Mr. Flores was the aide in my child’s classroom at the time,” Maus said this past week.

Soon after, Maus’ son was interviewed by a DHS employee and Norman Police Detective Jose Chavez at the Mary Abbott House. Maus said she is aware that another child also was interviewed at the Abbott House concerning her report.

Norman Police Captain Tom Easley said when Det. Chavez investigated the case, he took everything he could find to the District Attorney and the DA didn’t think there was enough evidence to file charges.

In the lawsuit filed last week, allegations were made that the situation with Flores was a “cover-up” because Flores’ father was a police officer.

“There’s nothing to cover up,” Easley said. “The case was not overlooked; it was investigated. There is no preferential treatment because of the fact (Flores’ father was) a law enforcement officer.”

Maus and other parents filed lawsuits that were settled against the Norman school district in 2007. Maus said her recent speaking out about Flores is not related to that lawsuit.

“(It’s) rather about the failure of the community systems to investigate the abuse of vulnerable disabled children for over a decade. My speaking out on this very important situation is to make sure that parents of children who may have knowledge of Mr. Flores’ actions can get their children the help that they need,” Maus said.

Several allegations were made in the most recent lawsuit filed Feb. 19 against Norman Public Schools, Superintendent Joe Siano, Christopher Flores and former NPS teacher Carolyn Shave.

Aside from the allegation that NPD was covering up for Flores because his father was a police officer, there was an allegation that NPS and Siano knowingly and purposefully kept information about abuse from being made known to parents.

The lawsuit further stated that NPS did not properly supervise and train Flores and negligently rehired Flores after being placed on notice of harm to children in Carolyn Shave’s classroom.

Shave had been previously arrested for drug possession but was not placed on administrative leave after being arrested. After allegations of abuse were made known, she was moved to a new school, the lawsuit stated.

“Under information and belief, Defendant NPS and Siano approved the moving of Flores and Shave to new schools, after being made aware of harm to children,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also makes an allegation that Siano was made aware of Flores’ inappropriate actions toward a small boy the first semester Flores was employed at NPS, and Siano allegedly took no action to suspend and scrutinize Flores’ interactions with small children.

Hickman said NPS takes every complaint seriously, fully investigates each one and responds appropriately and within the bounds of law.

“NPS disagrees with the allegations made against it in the 2007 lawsuits and the one filed last week. Filed by the same attorney, the new lawsuit contains virtually no detail regarding allegations,” Hickman said.

Hickman also added that, like other lawsuits, it was filed years after the student was in the Shave/Flores classroom.

“While we are limited by law in what we can share regarding investigations we conducted and contrary to any assertions being made, NPS had no information that would cause a reasonable person to conclude abuse was occurring,” she said.

Flores was a teacher’s aide for NPS from 2001 until 2011, when he resigned.

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com

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