Former Douglas Teacher Of The Year Still Under Investigation After Being Charged With Molesting 4 Girls

carlson elementary
Joe Carlson Elementary School [Photo courtesy Douglas Unified School District]

A former Douglas area award-winning elementary teacher will stand trial next year for allegedly molesting four girls between 2013 and 2016, but the number of felonies he is charged with and the number of victims could go up, the American Daily Independent has learned.

Jesus Armenta came under investigation by the Douglas Police Department in 2016 and in August 2018 he was charged by the Cochise County Attorney’s Office with two counts of sexual abuse and eight counts of child molestation involving three girls. A Cochise County grand jury added one more charge to Armenta’s case – a Class 2 felony alleging the continuous sexual abuse of a fourth student over a three-year period.

Armenta, 37, started with the Douglas Unified School District in 2012 as a substitute teacher before being hired as a full time educator. He was named Teacher of the Year in 2014 for the Joe Carlson Elementary School, and volunteered as a Child and Volunteer Protection Advocate for the Douglas area American Youth Soccer Association.

All four of the named victims were under the age of 15; two were reportedly molested while in the first grade. Armenta has remained out of custody on his own recognizance to await trial subject to a court order which prohibits any contact with the alleged victims or their families. He voluntarily surrendered his educator certificate in March 2017.

Prosecutor Michael Powell has filed an allegation of aggravating factors with the court, noting Armenta allegedly committed the offenses while working as a public servant. Another aggravating factor noted by Powell is the “physical, emotional, or financial harm” caused to the young victims.

COVID-19 court closures delayed getting Armenta’s case to trial, but that time appears to have been well spent by Douglas Det. Ivan Gamez.  Public records show Gamez kept the Armenta investigation file open and has been recently contacted about at least two other potential victims.

Any additional charges could be added to Armenta’s current case which is set for an eight-day trial starting April 5, 2022 in Judge Laura Cardinal’s courtroom. Or a new case could be opened. More information is expected to be released at Armenta’s next court appearance, a review hearing on Nov. 15.

Court records reveal a settlement conference held earlier this year with another judge resulted in an exchange of proposed non-trial resolutions, aka plea deals. But defense attorney Rafael Malanga reported to Cardinal on April 26 that Armenta was “ambivalent” toward Powell’s offers and requested to go to trial.

Anyone with information or questions about Armenta’s activities can call Det. Gamez as 520-417-7550.