Mesa kindergarten teacher appears in court - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Mesa kindergarten teacher appears in court

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

A Mesa kindergarten teacher is home from jail ordered to stay away from kids and his school.

Thomas Washburn was arrested on child abuse and indecent exposure charges this week. He's accused of taking a 6-year-old girl's shirt off in the classroom and having her stand there, half naked, in front of all the other kids.

A lot of parents are outraged over what happened inside a Mesa kindergarten classroom earlier this week, a judge decided that Thomas Washburn doesn't have to be locked up.

Washburn is on house arrest and has to wear an ankle monitor but there are a few places washburn plans to visit while he's going through the criminal justice system including his classroom and the gym.

"The past two days have really been a whirlwind for me" said Washburn.

The kindergarten teacher turned defendant addressed a judge during his initial court appearance. Investigators want to charge Washburn with one count of child abuse and 24 counts of indecent exposure.

The judge on Friday only found enough evidence to hold him accountable on one count of aggravated assault. Washburn asked the judge if he could go back to his classroom.

"I had a huge investment in my teaching materials that are still in my classroom at the school" said Washburn.

The judge allowed him to go back only when school is out and if district officials agree to it. Washburn cannot have any contact with his students, their parents, or the school. He cannot be around kids without another adult supervising which makes his requests problematic.

"The other question, I have been working out at lifetime fitness the last six months with the goal of losing 100 lbs within the next year, is that something that can be accomodated... the other quick question am I allowed to go to the grocery store to get groceries" asked Washburn.

The judge saying he'd have to get permission from court officials to do that.

FOX 10 visited Washburn's residence and he didn't answer when we knocked on his door. His neighbors describe him as a good guy who loves kids and enjoyed being a foster parent. They describe the whole shirt incident as a bad lapse of judgement on his part.

RELATED COVERAGE:
Mesa kindergarten teacher accused of child abuse

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