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Teacher arrested for alleged sexual abuse of former student

(Salt Lake County Jail)

SALT LAKE CITY – A teacher at West High School is booked into the Salt Lake County Jail after he reportedly had a sexual relationship with a girl who used to be a student.  Jail reports say the relationship lasted for a couple of years.

Sterrett “Rett” Neale has been a creative writing and language arts teacher at West since August of 1994.  Police say the sexual relationship started when the girl was a student in March of 2017.  The report says the sexual encounters were happening in his classroom, at first.  After she graduated, she allegedly went to his home, where the encounters happened nearly every week until February of 2019.

“He’s in a special position of trust.  As parents, you send your kids to school to be safe and learn.  You don’t want to worry about anything like this happening,” according to Salt Lake City Jeff Perea.

Educators with the Salt Lake School District say they had no knowledge of the relationship, and when Neale was arrested, they placed him on unpaid leave.

District Spokesperson Yandary Chatwin says, “We want to make sure that our parents trust that the school has the best interest of the students at heart.  We want them to know we’re conducting our own investigation.”

Principal Ford White sent a message to parents that reads, in part, “”This allegation is dreadful and, as parents, we know this will be of great concern to you. The employee has been placed on unpaid administrative leave and is currently in the custody of the Salt Lake City Police Department. The allegations against this individual are deeply unsettling, and we are committed to supporting the work of our police department in their investigation.”

Chatwin adds, “Part of the message that the principal sent out was that if there are students who are struggling with something or see themselves affected by this incident, we want them to reach out to our staff.”

Neale was booked in three counts of forcible sexual abuse, three counts of forcible sodomy and three counts of object rape.