Former Douglas Teacher Of The Year Indicted On Additional Molestation Charges

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

Since 2018, former Douglas area teacher of the year has been awaiting trial on 11 counts alleging he molested four children between 2013 and 2016. 

But on Nov. 15, Jesus Armenta stood before Judge Laura Cardinal of the Cochise County Superior Court to be arraigned on a new 8-count grand jury indictment that replaced the one issued in 2016. The new indictment includes only some of the original 11 counts, the severity of the alleged offenses and the number of victims has increased.

Read more by Terri Jo Neff >>

The new indictment accuses Armenta, 38, of the continuous sexual abuse of four children over a period of three months or more, including one child under the age of 14 who was allegedly sexually abused between 2010 and 2013. The other five victims reported abuse alleged to have occurred at various times between 2013 and 2016.

The new indictment includes a charge of sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 12 involving oral sex.

Armenta began as a substitute teacher with the Douglas Unified School District in 2012 before being hired full time. He was named Teacher of the Year for Joe Carlson Elementary School in 2014, but came under suspicion of misconduct in 2016.

Public records show Armenta voluntarily surrendered his educator certificate in 2017. The victims are believed to have come into contact with Armenta in either his classroom or through his volunteer work with American Youth Soccer Association.

As the result of the new indictment, Judge Cardinal vacated an April 2022 trial that has been on her calendar since June. A new trial date could be announced in January when Armenta has his next hearing.

However, defense attorney Rafael Malagna raised questions earlier this month about whether Armenta’s right to a speedy trial is being violated, given he was first charged in 2018. No challenge has been filed with the court about Armenta’s speed trial deadline as of Nov. 24.

Armenta remains out of custody pending trial. He has been given permission by Cardinal for occasional trips to Mexico.

Court records show prosecutor Michael Powell of the Cochise County Attorney’s Office attempted in April to resolve the case without a trial. Armenta, however, was “ambivalent” toward a plea deal, Malagna said at the time.

Another settlement conference is not out of the question, Powell told the judge during this month’s arraignment. A plea deal would ensure the victims do not have testify in public about their experiences.