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Teacher smuggled 14-year-old student into his classroom in storage bin, police say

Riverton middle school teacher booked into jail for investigation of kidnapping

SHARE Teacher smuggled 14-year-old student into his classroom in storage bin, police say
Students leave South Hills Middle School at the end of the day, after a man attacked a school resource officer and injured him with a piece of wood in Riverton on Monday, April 29, 2019.

Students leave South Hills Middle School in Riverton in this April 29, 2019 file photo.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

RIVERTON — A teacher at South Hills Middle School was arrested and accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old student, which included smuggling her into his classroom inside a bin while the school was closed to students.

Lucas Sloan Talley, 38, was booked into Salt Lake County Jail Friday for investigation of two counts of kidnapping.

Talley taught at the middle school for 12 years, during which he “had personal contact via text message and email with multiple young girls. Much of this contact has been of a personal nature and not school related,” according to a police booking affidavit.

“Lucas told detectives he has realized he needs the validation from these female students for his ego and thrives on it. Lucas said when the school shut down due to the pandemic, he really struggled with not having this validation, so began talking with this female victim daily Monday through Friday,” the affidavit states, adding that he “knew he was overstepping his teacher role but his interactions with the female victim were a type of therapy for him.”

Jordan School District spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf confirmed that Talley is “no longer employed” by the district. She declined to provide further comment, citing the ongoing police investigation.

Police say Talley, a father of four, resigned from his job about one week before his arrest.

During the 2019-20 school year, police say Talley started an “emotional relationship” with one of his 14-year-old students.

“Lucas began talking to the young female about his marriage, as well as his anxiety and depression. Lucas began taking treats to the young female’s home and spending time (hours) inside the girl’s home with her,” according to the affidavit.

During that time, Lucas allegedly hugged the girl and touched her inappropriately multiple times, police said.

“The female victim was scared something sexual was about to happen and felt uncomfortable and did not want to be in this setting with Lucas,” officers wrote in the affidavit.

Talley is also accused of planning two meetings with the girl at the middle school when it was closed because of the pandemic and no students were allowed in.

“Due to this, when the female victim arrived at the school, Lucas told the girl to get into a large black and yellow Sterilite bin. Lucas placed the Sterilite bin (with the female victim inside of the bin) on a dolly device and wheeled the girl into his classroom,” according to the affidavit. He then allegedly shut the classroom door and locked it.

He allegedly told police he named the bin after the girl, and put a label inside it that said: “Hope your box is comfortable.”

In the affidavit, Riverton police pointed out that Talley told them the girl’s parents didn’t know he had put her in a bin and he “does not feel a girl at the age of 14 is able to consent or even choose to be put into a bin and wheeled into his classroom.” Such information could be elements of a potential criminal charge of kidnapping.

In June, the girl’s mom asked Talley to stop communicating with her daughter. But Talley continued to send texts, video messages and emails to the girl, according to police.

“Lucas told detectives he has had other parents reach out to him and tell him to stop talking to their young daughters. Detectives are still actively investigating other cases which will be linked to Lucas,” the police affidavit says. 

The teacher said he “had thought of being with (the girl) as a couple, but knew he would have to wait six to seven years before he could get to this point,” the affidavit states. “Multiple emails, text messages and video messages have been obtained which show Lucas telling the female victim he loves her and misses her.”

Police say this isn’t the first inappropriate relationship Talley has had over the years.

“Lucas stated he talks to young girls who he knows has issues with anxiety, depression or other forms of struggles. Lucas said some girls he will not talk to about personal stuff because they do not have struggles he is aware of,” police wrote.

Police requested that Talley be held without bail due to his mental health state, according to the court documents.