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Charges filed in sex case

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A Tooele School District employee was charged Monday with having sexual relations and supplying alcohol to some students at Tooele High School.

Leslie Baird, 42, was charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of forcible sex abuse, two counts of supplying alcohol to minors and three counts of dealing in harmful materials to minors. The charges were filed in two separate cases.

Baird made her first appearance in 3rd District Court on both cases Monday afternoon.

"We do not believe any of the sexual contact happened on school property," said Tooele Police Chief Ron Kirby.

The charges stem from four victims, one 18-year-old male and three 17-year-old males. The charges of forcible abuse were filed because Baird held a position of trust over the students.

Baird was arrested at her home Sunday night by detectives. Kirby said investigators were first alerted to Baird on Saturday when a friend of one of the 17-year-old students saw "graphic, sexually explicit" text messages from Baird on his phone. The friend told his father, who in turn called police, Kirby said.

The next day, the parents of another 17-year-old complained to police that Baird had met with their son in a parking lot at night, Kirby said. Additional interviews revealed Baird allowed the teen to drink alcohol during the meeting, he said.

Although the sodomy charges are for only one of the 17-year-old boys, Deputy Tooele County Attorney Gary Searle said investigators believe Baird also engaged in sexual relations with the 18-year-old student. But because the student is an adult, charges could not be filed, he said.

The abuse and alcohol charges stem from incidents between May 1 and June 5, according to court records. The dealing in harmful materials, meaning the explicit text messages, occurred between Aug. 21 and Sunday, court records state.

Tooele High School began classes a week ago. Kirby said Baird met the students from the previous school year, although it is unclear whether they were her former or current students.

"We're confident there are no other victims," he said.

Baird has worked for the Tooele School District for six years. She began working as a special education aide in 2000, said District Superintendent Michael Johnsen. For the past two years, she was the coordinator of the math-remediation computer lab at the high school.

Johnsen said Baird was a "classified" employee and not a teacher. She worked more as an aide or tutor but was allowed to be in a classroom without the supervision of a teacher.

Baird has been suspended from the district pending the outcome of the investigation from police and prosecutors. She is married and has an undisclosed number of children, some of whom had graduated from high school and some who were still in school, according to police.

In January, a 29-year-old female substitute teacher in the Tooele District was arrested for having sexual relations with a 17-year-old student.

A 29-year-old former Copper Hills High School teacher was charged in 2005 with having sexual relations with a 16-year-old male student.

Baird was released from the Tooele County Jail on her own recognizance until her next court hearing, scheduled Sept. 12 at 1 p.m.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com