In 2023, 65 Arizona Educators Faced Discipline For Sexual Misconduct With Minors

January 5, 2024

By Corinne Murdock |

65 Arizona educators and 23 certified in Arizona faced discipline relating to sexual misconduct with minors in 2023.

According to Arizona State Board of Education (ASBE) board meetings, 88 educators’ alleged and/or admitted behavior with minors resulted in their certificates being either revoked, suspended, or voluntarily surrendered, with two given letters of censure with conditions:

  • Deniz Akca (Cartwright Elementary School District)
  • Enrique Alvarez (Nogales Unified School District)
  • David Atzenweiler (certified in Arizona)
  • Felix Armenta (Gadsden Independent School District)
  • Keith Armstrong (Legacy Traditional School)
  • Joshua Bahen (certified in Arizona)
  • Darangelo Balark (Maya High School)
  • Samuel Bauman (Mesa Unified School District)
  • Brent Becenti (Florence Unified School District)
  • Steve Belles (Chandler Unified School District)
  • Lucas Bogard (Blue Adobe Project)
  • Ray Borges (Agua Fria Union High School District)
  • Wulfido Caday (certified in Arizona)
  • Christopher Carter (Tempe Union High School District)
  • James Conkle (certified in Arizona)
  • Gregory Boujikian (Phoenix Union High School District)
  • Scott Brockish (Arizona State University Preparatory Academy)
  • Nicholas Brozina (certified in Arizona)
  • Holly Craft (Agua Fria Union High School District)
  • Timothy Dargon (Mingus Union High School District)
  • Troy Davis (Tolleson Union High School District)
  • Melissa Didiana (certified in Arizona)
  • James Dillon (Yuma Union High School District)
  • Stephen Escudero (Prescott Unified School District)
  • Cody Fortune (certified in Arizona)
  • Irvin Garcia-Flores (Aqua Fria Union High School District)
  • Esmeralda Velasco-Guerrero
  • Walter Halaberda (Flagstaff Unified School District)
  • Douglas Hester (Phoenix Union High School District)
  • Robert Holland (Phoenix Union High School District)
  • Michael Hood (certified in Arizona)
  • Cheng-Hsuan Tsai (Tempe Montessori School)
  • Miles Huff (Payson Unified School District)
  • Michael Irving (certified in Arizona)
  • Nathan Jellicoe (Dysart Unified School District)
  • Antonio Jordan (Mesa Public Schools)
  • Cory Kapahulehua (Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center High School)
  • Jon Kizzia (Scottsdale Unified School District)
  • Daniel Scott Larsen (Winslow Unified School District)
  • Lou Lernor (ASU Preparatory Academy South Phoenix)
  • James Limones (Sunnyside Unified School District)
  • Mark Lindrud (certified in Arizona)
  • Salvador Lopez (Sunnyside Unified School District)
  • Mark Lucero (Douglas Unified School District)
  • Kelly Martin (Legacy Traditional School)
  • Shane Martin (Yuma Elementary District)
  • Lynn Matthews (certified in Arizona)
  • James Miller (Dysart Unified School District)
  • Michael Molina (Douglas Unified School District)
  • Marissa Montero (Chandler Unified School District)
  • Jalen Montgomery (Scottsdale Unified School District)
  • Elaine Mooneyham (Parker Unified School District)
  • Michael Naumann (Pendergast Elementary School District)
  • Gustavo Orellana (certified in Arizona)
  • Samantha Peer (Lake Havasu Unified School District)
  • Marvin Pacheco Villa (Western School of Science and Technology)
  • Zachary Parker (Phoenix Union High School District) 
  • Eric Popely (certified in Arizona)
  • Jacob Ramirez (Paradise Valley Unified School District)
  • Jaron Rheinlander (Marana Unified School District, ASU Preparatory Academy)
  • Dylan Riddle (Vail Unified School District)
  • Todd Roatsey (certified in Arizona)
  • Celedonio Rodriguez (Flagstaff Unified School District)
  • Eric Sapul (Altar Valley School District)
  • Humberto Sauceda (certified in Arizona)
  • Andrea Schembre
  • Brandon Shinault (Adams Traditional Academy)
  • Joshua Silverthorn (certified in Arizona)
  • Scott Sims (Deer Valley Unified School District)
  • Jessica Smith (Accelerated Learning Center, Phoenix Charter High School)
  • William Thorpe (Vail Unified School District)
  • Angel Torres (certified in Arizona)
  • Ryan Trerise (Glendale Preparatory Academy Great Hearts)
  • Clarence Walker III (certified in Arizona)
  • Justin Walters (Desert Garden Montessori School)
  • Christopher Walton (certified in Arizona)
  • Shawn Watson (certified in Arizona)
  • Colin White (Payson Unified School District)
  • Nathan Williams (certified in Arizona)
  • Sommer Wilson (Kyrene School District)
  • Brandon Wingert (Tanque Verde Unified School District)
  • Jorge Valencia (Flagstaff Unified School District)
  • Zobella Vinik (Tucson Unified School District)
  • Dante Yarborough (Mesa Unified School District)
  • William Yaw IV (certified in Arizona)
  • Blake Young (Maricopa Unified School District)
  • Jose Garcia Zepeda (Phoenix Union High School District)
  • Russell Zysett (certified in Arizona)

Some cases brought before ASBE await adjudication. Their case summaries cited inappropriate behavior with minors. Select portions of these cases are reproduced below:

  • Manual Gavina (Phoenix Elementary School District), teaching certificates suspended pending a public hearing and final decision of ASBE: “On or about December 10, 2019, officers from the Phoenix Police Department arrested Manuel Gavina for three counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor. Educator Gavina inappropriately touched several female students’ breasts and buttocks. Educator Gavina admitted to touching hundreds of female students’ breasts.” 
  • Levi Jackson (certified in Arizona), teaching certificates suspended pending a public hearing and final decision of ASBE: “On or about October 4, 2022, Educator Jackson was arrested for five counts of Felony Sexual Abuse, 2 counts of Felony Lure Minor for Sexual Exploitation, 1 count of Felony Sexual Conduct with a Minor, and 19 counts of Misdemeanor Contribute to Delinquency of a Minor by officers from the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office. Educator Jackson inappropriately touched his foreign exchange host student, Student A, over a period of several weeks. Educator Jackson touched Student’s A private area, gave Student A an inappropriate massage near Student A’s groin, asked to see Student A’s private area, discussed masturbation with Student A, and rubbed his own groin against Student A.”
  • Joanna Reyes (Sunnyside Unified School District), teaching certificates suspended pending a public hearing and final decision by ASBE: “Educator Reyes was involved in a romantic relationship with her former 5th grade student, Student A, who was twelve-years-old. This case was presented to the Pima County Attorney’s Office on February 13, 2023 for felony charges. The felony charges were declined. However, multiple misdemeanor charges of Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Nuisance will be filed with the Tucson City Court.” ASBE informed AZ Free News that her case is under review for appropriate next steps in the disciplinary process.
  • Jacob Williams (Yuma Union High School District, Somerton School District), teaching certificates suspended pending a public hearing and final decision of ASBE: “On or about October 6, 2022, officers from the Yuma Police Department arrested Jacob Ray Williams for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. Educator Williams was ‘Snapchatting’ with a minor female student, requesting her to send naked pictures. Educator Williams sent pictures of his genitalia to this minor female student.”

ASBE meeting materials may be reviewed here. As per our previous reporting on this subject, some of the accused educators have denied the allegations against them.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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