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UPDATE: Principal comments after teacher arrested on sexual assault charges

Posted at 3:27 PM, Feb 22, 2017

UPDATE FEB. 23: For the first time, we're hearing from the principal after a teacher is arrested on sexual assault charges.  

"I don't want to get emotional," said Mater Academy Principal Renee Fairless. "It's hard."

Fairless, a mom of two, is also in charge of approximately 1,000 other children.

"This is the worst thing to happen in a school," she said of the allegations. 

13 Action News is digging deeper into the past of Samuel Duarte.

"Mr. Duarte came to us as a bilingual educator," she said. "Kids liked him, staff liked him, parents love him."

Some parents were alarmed to discover Duarte was once investigated for a similar incident in 2014. That case was dismissed for insufficient evidence. 

According to the Department of Education website, Duarte obtained his teacher's license in May of 2016.

Principal Fairless has more than 30 years of experience in education. She has this advice for parents and students.

"If they feel uncomfortable around somebody, talk about why, report that, tell me."

UPDATE 9 P.M. FEB. 22: A special education teacher’s aide is behind bars accused of molesting a child.

Police say Samuel Duarte inappropriately touched a 9-year-old girl at Mater Academy on South Mountain Vista Street.
Alejandra Ortega was horrified to learn the news. It's the same school where Ortega's 10-year-old daughter is a special education student.
"To hear that, it really bothers me some," Ortega says.
Ortega now worries about her little girl's safety.
"It's very alarming to know that you're trusting these teachers to educate your child," Ortega says.
According to an arrest report, last November the victim's dad said his daughter told him Duarte gave her gifts and touched her inappropriately.
Raul Duarte, Samuel Duarte's father, isn’t sure what to think.
When asked whether he believes his son is innocent or guilty, Raul Duarte responded, "Maybe, maybe, I don't know."
Raul Duarte says he and his son have little contact. He wasn't even aware of the charges against his son until we told him.
"What can I do?” Duarte asked. “I'm sad."
The report also says Samuel Duarte was investigated for a similar incident with an autistic boy in 2014 when he worked with Clark County schools.

A former teacher named Samuel Duarte, 29, has been arrested for sexual assault of a minor younger than 16 and one charge of lewdness with a child younger than 14.

Duarte taught school at Mater Academy last year was arrested Sunday. He was employed as a special education teacher.

According to an arrest report, Duarte would give the girl candy, toys and even money.

On Nov. 14, her father asked the girl about a book he did not recognize. She told him that Duarte gave her money to buy the book. She also told her father that the teacher would give her other gifts.

On Nov. 15, the girl told her father that she didn't want to go to school. She also told her father that the teacher asked her if she wanted to be his daughter at school and that Duarte threatened to kill her.

The girl decided to tell her father because her "privates" hurt.

The victim told police that Duarte would have her sit beside his desk in the classroom. He would then touch her and put his hands inside her clothes. The girl said that Duarte did this several times.

Duarte was called in for questioning. He said he would give the children prizes but denied doing anything to the girl. He was supposed to take a polygraph on Nov. 18 but failed to appear.

The report also said that Duarte was investigated for a similar incident involving an autistic boy. However, he was never charged.

The Clark County School District confirmed that Duarte was employed by them from January 2008 to June 2016 when he resigned. He last taught at Orr Middle School. They also confirmed he was investigated in 2014.

The principal for Mater Academy, located near East Desert Inn Road and South Nellis Boulevard, says he was hired in August 2016. He passed the background check and was highly recommended. He went to high school in Las Vegas and graduated from UNLV. He was asked to leave the school until the investigation was completed.

Duarte is currently being held at Clark County Detention Center.