Teacher says school district botched investigation of Utah janitor accused of sex abuse
(KUTV) – The Nebo School District released a detailed timeline that outlines its investigation of a janitor who is now accused of sexually abusing two boys at Sierra Bonita Elementary in Spanish Fork.
But a teacher who reported Adrian Villar, 59, to district officials says she thinks the district didn’t do enough to investigate concerns when they first surfaced in 2017.
“Everybody up the line should be held accountable for their negligence in taking care of this,” former Sierra Bonita teacher Janna Slye told 2News Wednesday night.
Police arrested Villar this week for two counts of sexual abuse of children after two boys, ages eight and 11, told detectives they were sexually abused by Villar.
Slye says her suspicion of Villar began in February 2017 when she went to check on one of her special needs students who was in the bathroom.
“I ran in and checked on him, I said ‘hey buddy, you ok?’ I didn’t get much back, I heard some grunting and I thought, ‘oh this can’t be good,” Slye said.
Slye says when she called in again, Villar’s voice came from inside the bathroom asking if he could help.
“It threw me off a little, it seemed off … I went to the classroom and called my secretary,” Sly said.
Her account of the bathroom incident differs from what district officials released in a statement Wednesday night. The district account says Villar was called to the bathroom after the student had a “health issue.”
“Additional employees responded and stood outside the restroom in case further assistance was needed,” the district statement says.
Slye says she watched the surveillance video that was pulled from outside the bathroom and she says it shows nobody entering the bathroom with the boy until Villar went in.
“If he was radioed in there why did he not tell me that? It wasn’t until after I called the secretary for help that he was radioed and I heard that radio call. He was already in the restroom with my student,” Slye said.
Slye admits that at the time she didn’t think any abuse happened in the bathroom because of the brief time Villar was with the boy, but she said a custodian should have ‘never’ been alone with a special needs student in the bathroom.
Slye says the next day she saw Villar having a close ‘personal conversation’ with an 11-year-old student. Another former employee of the school spoke with KUTV and reported Villar was frequently seen talking with the 11-year-old boy.
According to Slye, she e-mailed the school’s principal and expressed her concerns that Villar was alone on two occasions with special needs students. The Nebo School District said in a statement to KUTV that the principal of the Sierra Bonita performed an investigation.
“As part of the investigation, the school surveillance video was viewed by multiple school employees and the boy was questioned. District officials reviewed the investigation and found no evidence to warrant further action,” the statement says.
Nebo District officials would not confirm if the boy’s parents were contacted about the investigation or if the parents were told that the boy was questioned.
Slye says she received backlash from reporting Villar. Slye says during the district’s investigation, she was told she was negligent for allowing her student to be alone in a bathroom with a custodian.
Her notes from May 15, 2017 say “They are upset that I am ‘dragging his name through the mud,’ and ‘ruining an innocent man’s life.”
Slye left her job at the school and eventually left the school district.
But when rumors about Villar began to swirl again on social media in February 2018, Slye says she felt she needed to tell the parents of the boy who was questioned of his interactions with Villar a year earlier. Slye says the mother knew nothing about it.
Consistent with Slye’s statement, Spanish Fork police confirm the boy’s parents contacted detectives in February 2018.
TIMELINE: (Based on notes from Jana Slye, a statement from Nebo School District, and Spanish Fork Police)
- February 14, 2017: Bathroom incident
- February 15, 2017: Teacher Janna Slye sees Villar having a “close, personal” conversation with a student
- February 19, 2017: Slye writes Sierra Bonita administration expressing her concerns
- February 2017: District finds “no evidence to warrant further action.”
- March 2017: District instructs Slye to contact Division of Child and Family Services if she still has concerns.
- May 2017: Villar transfers to Santaquin Elementary School.
- February 2018: Slye talks to the boy’s parents and told them of investigation from 2017.
- February 7, 2018: Spanish Fork Police are contacted for the first time. The report was of a possible lewdness (indecent exposure) in the Sierra Bonita bathroom in February 2017.
- February 21, 2018: Spanish Fork Police receive video of the February bathroom incident from the district. The video shows the door to access the bathroom.
- March 2018: Spanish Fork Police determine there is not enough evidence to charge Villar.
- May 15, 2018 : Spanish Fork Police receive new information from the eight year old boy after a child forensic interview. Police contacted the Nebo District with the new information and Villar was put on administrative leave.
- May 21, 2018: 11-year-old victim speaks with Spanish Fork Police detectives.
- May 22, 2018: Villar arrested for two counts of sexual abuse of children.
2News contacted Villar at his home in Santaquin. He closed the door without making any comment.
The Nebo School District referred any additional inquiries to its attorney. The Utah County Attorney has not filed charges in court against Villar as of Thursday morning.
The Nebo School District sent the following statement to KUTV and parents Wednesday night:
Mr. Villar started working at Nebo School District on May 2012.
Larsen Elementary from 2012 to 2016.
Sierra Bonita Elementary from 2016 to 2017.
Santaquin Elementary from 2017 to 2018.
In the middle of February 2017, an employee contacted the school front office notifying them that there was a boy in the restroom with health issues. The school office contacted the custodian to go to the boys restroom to clean up an accident. The custodian responded to the request. Additional employees responded and stood outside the restroom in case further assistance was needed. The boy’s mother was called to pick up the child.
In February 2017, the same employee emailed the principal about a concern that she did not feel comfortable that an adult was in the restroom alone with the child. After receiving the employee’s concern, the principal performed an investigation. As part of the investigation, the school surveillance video was viewed by multiple school employees and the boy was questioned. District officials reviewed the investigation and found no evidence to warrant further action.
In the first week of March 2017, the same employee continued to have concerns about the incident and contacted Nebo School District. Based on her concerns, district officials directed the employee to contact DCFS. The employee called DCFS at that time.
In May 2017, Mr. Villar applied for and was hired as the custodian at Santaquin Elementary after the previous custodian retired.
In February of 2018, police contacted Nebo School District with an allegation against Mr. Villar of inappropriate conduct based on new testimony regarding the incident that occurred in 2017. Upon receiving this new information from police, district officials immediately put him on administrative leave. Police conducted an investigation and later notified Nebo School District that no charges would be filed and that the complaint was “unfounded”.
In March of 2018, according to policy, Nebo School District conducted a separate investigation regarding the new testimony and concluded that there was no evidence to warrant further action.
On May 15, 2018, Spanish Fork Police department contacted Nebo School District with new additional information regarding the 2017 alleged incident. Upon receiving this new additional information from police, district officials immediately put him on administrative leave pending further investigation. Mr. Villar was arrested on May 22, 2018.
Nebo School District has full confidence in the investigative, legal, and judicial processes and will continue to provide assistance and support to law enforcement.