CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have arrested and charged a former Ballantyne teacher after he reportedly forcibly fondled multiple children.
Detectives with CMPD arrested 36-year-old Joseph Starnes Friday. He has been charged with six counts of indecent liberties with a child.
Earlier in March, Crimes Against Children Unit Detectives were notified of a forcible fondling incident that had occurred at the Primrose School of Ballantyne.
According to CMPD, the incident involved an 8-year-old boy. However, after further investigation detectives say they obtained information and evidence that Starnes had also fondled another 7-year-old boy.
Both incidents occurred while Starnes was employed as a teacher at the school, police say.
"We're working to determine at this point whether there are any other victims associated with this individual," said CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano.
"We were fortunate here in that one of the children communicated information that just didn't sound right to a parent and that parent was smart enough, diligent enough to follow up on that information," Tufano said.
Tuesday, the Primrose School of Ballantyne released the following statement:
The safety and security of the children in our care is always our top priority. When an incident occurs that does not meet our standards, we report to and work hand-in-hand with state licensing to take corrective actions.
Primrose Schools has many safety and security policies, including those related to background checks. All employees hired by the Primrose School of Ballantyne undergo the criminal background check process as well as reference checks and working interviews.We are fully cooperating with authorities as their investigation of Mr. Starnes continues. Moving forward, our focus is on connecting with our families and maintaining the comfort of daily routines for our children and staff.
Starnes is currently in the custody of Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office. Anyone with further information is asked to call Detective O'Dell at 704-336-4466.