TALENT, Ore.– A registered sex offender with charges dating back almost a decade was arrested Monday for allegedly hiding in the girl’s locker room at Talent Middle School. Two days later, new questions and new details are emerging about how this man got into the school and why he was let go.
The suspect, 41-year-old Curtis Stevenson, is an out of compliance sex offender according to police, meaning he may not have been giving police his updated address to ensure he would be registered. When he was being questioned, police found a lockbox in his car containing three pairs of female underwear, a small container of meth and two cellphones, one that Stevenson said belonged to him and another he admitted to stealing.
He’s being charged with burglary in the first and second degree, identity theft and computer crime.
The whole incident became public after the school’s principal Aaron Santi sent out an email to TMS families Monday evening notifying them of what happened. According to Talent Police and a probable cause affidavit submitted by the arresting officer, the incident began around 10:48 a.m. on Monday, June 3.
It’s believed that Stevenson was let in through a side door by a student. Surveillance video reviewed by school staff confirmed this interaction. Police are working with the school to identify that student so they can understand what was said.
After he was let in, Stevenson made his way to the girl’s locker room where he stayed for nearly an hour and a half before being found around 12:25 p.m by a P.E. teacher. Students were unaware he was in the room.
One mother who wished to remain anonymous said her daughter was in the locker room for P.E. class around the time he was hiding. She says her daughter told her there was one bathroom stall overlooking the changing room that was locked all day.
The mother also said it was her daughter’s phone that was stolen by Stevenson which ultimately helped in locating him. They used Find My iPhone to track where the phone was once it was turned on.
“That’s actually something that we had worked on in conjunction with the family to use the procedure to try and find the telephone,” said Chief Tim Doney of Talent Police Department.
It was traced to Stevenson’s home at the 2400 block of North Valley View Road. The mother says the road was gated and they couldn’t get access. Once they couldn’t get any further, that’s when she decided to give police the address leading to his arrest later that afternoon. She was unaware at the time that the person who stole her daughter’s phone was a sex offender.
“If they have an iPhone or some type of electronic device that has some type of tracking capability, we always ask them to check into that because that’s our easiest lead to where that item is,” said Chief Doney.
Back at the school, once the P.E. teacher found Stevenson, he was escorted to Principal Santi. Superintendent Brent Barry of the Phoenix-Talent School District says on the way to the office he said he was a parent of a future student. The affidavit states when asked about being in the locker room, he told the principal he was, “confused on what locker room he entered.”
“Our staff went and met with him and he was posing as a prospective parent and asking questions about enrolling his son,” said Barry. “Our staff went through that process and spoke to the gentleman for a while.”
But despite being found in the girl’s locker room, Stevenson was escorted off campus. Talent Police were not called until 3 p.m. Chief Tim Doney doesn’t know why Stevenson wasn’t held and police weren’t contacted sooner.
“A lot of times folks are asked to stay at a location while the authorities are called,” he said. “But I’m not privy to all the nuances as to why exactly this individual was allowed to leave.”
The school district says it’s reviewing its protocols and working with staff to investigate why the decision was made to let him go. Chief Doney says he understands they had no way of knowing he was a sex offender.
“But, you know, an adult male in the school grounds, either can be some explanation on why that happens,” he said. “Finding an adult male in the girl’s locker room certainly raises some red flags.”
Chief Doney says they are working with the school district and TMS staff to ensure police are called right away if something like this happens again. He says they were fortunate in this case and staff at the school were very helpful in identifying Stevenson as the suspect. But being called more than an hour after the suspect had left, Chief Doney says that causes a lag that doesn’t help investigations.
“It really became a case of we’re behind the curve by about an hour and a half or so,” he said. “Fortunately, within a short period of time, we were able to track him down and find him.”
Superintendent Barry says they hope that remodeling project this summer will address some issues with school safety. He said the school does have a part-time school resource officer but cited funding issues for creating a full-time SRO.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.