Parents Concerned After Hearing DMPS Employee is Charged with Sexually Exploiting Children

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Police said Thatcher Williams, a former faculty person at Monroe Elementary, is charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Monroe Elementary parent Alissa Finch said Williams is someone that dozens of children saw everyday, and the news of his arrest is concerning parents.

“It was just very disturbing to see those charges and so many counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and no information about why this occurred and exactly what happened. Did it happen to a student? How did this occur?” Finch said.

Des Moines Public School officials released a statement Tuesday morning about Williams saying, “Thatcher Williams was the office manager at Monroe Elementary School. He was placed on leave in early January, when law enforcement began its investigation, and resigned yesterday after learning that charges would be filed.”

Finch says she found out about the charges and arrest through other sources before the school had released the statement.

“I think they should have said something about it when he left in January because it felt really poorly to be so blindsided. To wake up to this, this morning and to be sick with worry about what might have happened to my child for over half the day,” Finch said.

Court documents show a search warrant served at Williams’ home uncovered pornography images uploaded to his Tumblr account.

“I think the one reassurance we can give everybody right now is it certainly appears that there was no school electronic equipment used in this and that there were no local children involved. So as much comfort as you can find in that, knowing that there were other kids victimized, they weren’t our kids here,” Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek said.

Finch said many parents are still worried.

“We are very, very worried about what would have happened if they hadn’t caught him when they did. If he would have taken advantage of some of the kids at the school,” Finch said.

Police said there could be more charges filed once investigators finish going through Williams' computer.

Williams also worked at Class Act Productions in Altoona, The Des Moines Playhouse and Ankeny Community Theater.

Class Act Productions released a statement reading in part:

"All board members and volunteers at the theatre have to go through a thorough background check to protect the children who participate in our youth programming. Unfortunately, background checks only work when someone has already been convicted of a crime. In addition, CAP strictly adheres to a “two-adult” rule, meaning that there must always be two adults in the building whenever even one child is present. This ensures that no adult is ever alone with a child in the theatre. Based on the information provided in this matter, it is not believed that these charges involve any CAP youth."

The rest of the statement can be read here.

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