A former Sapulpa teacher who recently was arrested for lewd molestation was honored by the district as one of the top educators last year, officials confirm.
Benjamin Begines, 33, of Sand Springs, has been accused of inappropriately touching two female students. He was named the Sapulpa Middle School Teacher of the Year for the 2017-18 school year.
Sapulpa Public Schools lists Begines on its website, along with seven others chosen as teachers of the year in their respective buildings. A spokesperson for the district confirmed the award to 2 News Works For You.
Begines was arrested March 12 as part of an investigation that began in late January. Begines has not been teaching since the allegations were made, school officials say.
According to an affidavit, the two seventh-grade girls described to investigators how Begines touched their breasts, looked down their shirts, put his hand down their shirts and stood next to their chairs and rubbed his genitals on their arms. Police say Begines seemed to be using the supply closet in his classroom and "playful interaction" with students as a way to groom them to be his victims.
Begines also admitted to having a fake Instagram account, which the students said he used to spy on them anonymously and then mention their posts in class, the affidavit says.
"He admits to commenting about various Instagram posts during class, but he does this to teach 'digital citizenship' to students, so they can learn that what they put out on the Internet is 'out there' for everyone to see," he told an investigator, according to the affidavit.
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