A school janitor accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in a building at Scottsdale’s Saguaro High School was charged Tuesday with seven felony counts of sexual-related offenses involving a minor.
The charges came the same day that Scottsdale Unified School District and Saguaro administrators met with about 120 parents and community members to answer questions and explain security changes on the school’s campus.
Roberto Lemus-Retana, 26, of Phoenix, is being charged with four counts of sexual conduct with a minor, one count of sexual abuse, one count of kidnapping and one count of sexual public indecency with a minor, according to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Lemus-Retana is a custodial worker with ABM Janitorial Services, which contracts with the district. He was arrested Friday at the school.
The district has already launched some security changes, including requiring ABM to give the district a copy of employee background checks, said Carl Hurlburt, a district official.
Before, ABM had to certify that it had completed background checks on employees.
Saguaro is also requiring janitors to work in pairs and adjusting schedules so there is security on campus from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., said principal Tyrus Timbrooks.
Security guards weren’t on campus when the incident occurred Friday because there were no events that would have drawn outside spectators, Timbrooks said.
Usually, security is present during the school day and when there are after-school events, Timbrooks said.
After-school club meetings and practices are supervised by teachers and staff, who assure students exit the buildings safely and lock the doors, Timbrooks said. Other than that, doors are supposed to be locked by 3:30 p.m. every day.
The freshman girl told police the attack happened when she returned to the 300 building after school to retrieve textbooks from her locker. She said she went to the bathroom after getting the books, and Lemus-Retana was standing in the bathroom when she emerged from the stall, according to court documents.
The girl told police she resisted Lemus-Retana, but the report says he molested her, then led her to another room and had sex with her.
Lemus-Retana said after his arrest that he had sex with the girl, but that she initiated contact and told him she was 17, reports state.
The girl was examined Friday afternoon at the Scottsdale Family Advocacy Center and was found to have vaginal injuries, reports state.
Lemus-Retana had cleared a background check on the state level before his employment by ABM, which goes back seven years, according to Mark Safsten, vice president of safety and risk management for ABM.
According to the contract between ABM and the school district, it is ABM’s responsibility to conduct the background checks on its employees. Workers with a felony record are prohibited from working in Scottsdale schools.
Brenda Nitchen, whose daughter is a freshman at Saguaro, said after the meeting she hadn’t thought much about school security before this.
“After hearing about all the holes in security, now I feel more unsafe,” she said.
While Nitchen said she liked hearing the school’s new building would have security cameras and janitors are now required to work in pairs, she said she would ask her daughter to hold off on joining after-school activities until she hears more about improved security measures.
Natalie Springston and her daughter, sophomore Beverly Gross, both said they weren’t overly concerned about campus security, even though Gross said she was in the 300 building picking up her own textbook about 45 minutes after the incident.
“This school is very safe,” Gross said. “And I’m a pretty paranoid person.” Lemus-Retana is being held in the Maricopa County’s Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix without bond. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 5 at 8:30 a.m. A woman who answered the phone at Lemus-Retana’s residence in Phoenix on Tuesday had no comment.