A Northridge High School counselor arrested last week has been formally charged with rape.

Curtis Scott Ward, 33, Layton, was charged in 2nd District Court Wednesday with two counts of first-degree felony rape. He is accused of having sex with a female student last year. She was 17 at the time, so the age difference and the fact that Ward was in a position of "special trust" precluded the girl from being able to consent, according to Layton police.

Ward was arrested at the school Feb. 25. He was booked into the Davis County Jail, but he posted bond and was released later the same day.

Deputy Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said the two charges stem from the fact that prosecutors believe the sex occurred on multiple occasions. One charge relates to alleged sex at the school, the other to alleged sex at Ward's house. Both charges relate to the same teenage girl.

The sex occurred between November 2002 and March 2003, court documents charge.

An initial court appearance has been set for March 29 at the 2nd District courthouse in Farmington.

If convicted, Ward could face five years to life in prison on each count.

After his arrest, Ward told the Deseret Morning News, "I'm absolutely innocent."

Ward, who is employed as a school counselor by the Davis School District, has been placed on paid administrative leave. The district will decide whether to change his status after they get more information, said Chris Williams, the district's community relations specialist.

"It's still a little early" to make a decision, he said. "We do pay attention to the charges being filed, but we're still in our evidence-gathering process. . . . We're still working with police, and as we gather information we'll get closer to making a determination whether the employee is on leave with pay or on leave without pay. We just have to be sensitive and careful that everyone's rights are protected and that's why we're methodical and may appear to be slow to some people."

E-mail: dsmeath@desnews.com