NORMAN — The Valentine's Day arrest of a former Norman teacher's aide on a lewd molestation charge has some parents fuming.
Parents say for more than a decade they have warned Norman school administrators and local police about violent and inappropriate conduct toward children by Christopher Ray Flores while he was a teacher's aide at Norman's Wilson Elementary School. They claim their complaints were ignored and covered up.
“You have another Sandusky event,” said Norman parent Kristofer Russow, referring to former Penn State University assistant football coach and convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. “The warnings that we put out regarding this individual went completely unheeded.”
Flores was charged with lewd molestation Feb. 13 after a relative complained Flores had molested her 9-year-old son.
He was taken to the Cleveland County jail.
Flores, 30, of Norman, admitted touching the boy on his penis on three occasions, a Norman police detective reported.
Parents say since 2002, they have registered numerous complaints against Flores and Carolyn Shave, the former teacher in the special needs class where Flores worked.
They point to allegations contained in at least three federal lawsuits and one state lawsuit filed since 2007.
Among other things, those lawsuits allege that Shave forced a male elementary school special needs student to “take her clothes off and massage her when the other children were at recess.”
They also allege that Flores slammed a special needs student's head through a glass door and that Flores and Shave used improper strangle holds on children and punished them by placing them in a dark isolation room, tying them down and placing socks in their mouths, and pressing their heads and bodies against the floor for extended times.
Karen Long, attorney for the school district, said allegations made in lawsuits aren't necessarily true.
The district settled all three federal lawsuits out of court with confidentiality agreements that prohibit litigants from revealing the amounts of the settlements or discussing evidence in the cases.
Flores and Shave worked in a classroom for emotionally disturbed students. Allegations of child abuse should be considered in the context of the ongoing public debate over the proper amount of restraint or seclusion to use when dealing with children whose behavior might be a danger to themselves or others, Long said.
Shave was a teacher for Norman Public Schools from August 1983 to September 1987 and again from August 1992 until October 2006.
She submitted her resignation Sept. 26, 2006. That's the same day that a lawsuit says she was arrested, accused of “cultivation of marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms, possession of drug paraphernalia, including numerous pipes for ingesting illegal substances, and possession of cocaine.”
She received a five-year deferred sentence, according to a Cleveland County official.
There is no longer a court record of the case, an indication it may have been expunged. Efforts to reach Shave by telephone were unsuccessful.
Flores worked for Norman Public Schools from 2001 until the spring of 2010, when he resigned.
The parents contend they made numerous complaints, but school administrators seemed more interested in protecting the district's image than students. They also contend that police acted to protect Flores.