Thursday, September 13, 2007
Admitted Pedophile Taught at 8 Schools
By Andrea Schoellkopf
Journal Staff Writer
Robert H. Ashley taught as a full-time teacher or substitute at eight Albuquerque public schools before allegations of voyeurism emerged last week.
Albuquerque Public Schools on Wednesday released Ashley's APS employment history after refusing to do so Tuesday, setting off a storm of controversy.
He started at APS as a special education teacher at Kit Carson Elementary from 1998 to 2001. He was a first-grade teacher in spring 2007 semester at Atrisco Elementary.
Ashley, 63, is being sought by law enforcement after he allegedly videotaped up the skirt of an Atrisco student. School employees found the camera in an abandoned backpack in the teachers' lounge last week.
According to APS personnel records:
Ashley resigned in 2001 from Kit Carson, where he had a temporary special education teaching license under a waiver from the state. The waiver was because he did not have licensure for special education. A background check was done.
He reapplied for a teaching job with APS in 2004 after going through a second background check but turned down an offer to teach fourth-grade at Emerson Elementary.
From August 2005 to January 2007, he was a substitute teacher at seven elementary schools: Alamosa for 35 days, Atrisco for 186 days, Carlos Rey for six days, Emerson for two days, Hodgin for two days, La Luz for 189 days and Pajarito for 82 days.
He was hired in January 2007 as a first-grade teacher at Atrisco, where he was assigned this fall to be an automatic substitute teacher for that school. That means he was always the person called to fill in there, spokesman Rigo Chavez said.
White has said Ashley is a retired teacher from California and also may have worked as a substitute in Nevada and Colorado.
Superintendent Elizabeth Everitt said Wednesday the district is letting parents know if their children may have had contact with Ashley and will offer counseling.
Spokeswoman Monica Armenta said Tuesday that APS could not release Ashley's work history due to personnel confidentiality concerns. She said that was the word from the APS' Human Resources office.
Everitt said Wednesday the district had made a mistake and decided to release the information because it's public record.
She said the district will make sure to release public information as quickly as possible in the future.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White received Ashley's records and the list of APS schools where he taught Wednesday.
He said he was concerned that it had taken so long.
"We are going over all the documents given to us by APS," White said. "We were a little concerned that after six days, we did not have his APS records."
Ashley admitted in an interview with law enforcement last week that he was a pedophile with a foot fetish for 8- and 9-year-old girls.
He told investigators that he doesn't relate well to women and "kids fill the void for me," according to an arrest warrant filed in Metro Court.
A warrant was issued Monday for his arrest on a felony charge of child voyeurism.
It said Ashley selected his apartment on Gibson SE specifically because it had a view of the playground.
"He explains that he uses the 'super-zoom' feature of his camera to sit in the outfield and thinks it is humorous that people think he is filming the boys baseball game when he is, in fact, filming women and children in the stands," the document states.
Neighbors have told police that Ashley moved out of his apartment on Gibson SE in the middle of the night Saturday.
Armenta said nothing showed up in any police background checks on Ashley in the two times he had been hired.
Criminal history checks include fingerprinting, state and FBI police searches and drug testing.
Before teachers are certified in New Mexico, their names are run through the FBI and the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, a registry of teachers licensed in other states, said Beverly Friedman, spokeswoman for the state Public Education Department.
"There was nothing on Robert Ashley," she said. "He does indeed have a current (New Mexico) license, which is now under investigation. We initiated the investigation on Sept. 10 of this week."
There is a notation on his New Mexico licensure file that he is under investigation, she said. However, she did not know if that would prevent him from getting a teaching job in another state.
Everitt said APS has a community service center hot line, 855-9040, and a "fraud, waste and abuse" hot line, 880-3724, where parents or faculty can report concerns about adult behavior toward children.
"We hold our teachers and people in schools to our highest standard," Everitt said. "If there's question about behavior, we need to address it. We take everything seriously."
Journal staff writer Carolyn Carlson contributed to this report.