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Arizona kindergarten teacher arrested for pulling shirt off six-year-old girl

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona kindergarten teacher has been arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure, accused of pulling the shirt off a crying 6-year-old girl and leaving her briefly topless in front of her class, police said on Thursday.

Thomas Washburn, 54, was arrested and taken into custody on Wednesday on suspicion of 25 counts of indecent exposure and one count of child abuse stemming from the incident at Adams Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona, police spokesman Steve Berry said.

Police said Washburn became upset while in class on Wednesday with 25 students and began shouting, causing the girl to begin crying and hide her face in her shirt.

He then removed the shirt when she would not stop crying, and class continued for about 10 minutes before he returned it, Berry said.

Washburn told the mother what happened when she arrived to pick up her daughter after classes were over for the day, police said. Authorities were called to the school after the mother contacted the principal's office.

Washburn, a teacher at the school since 2006, has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to a school district spokeswoman.

An investigation continues, but police said they do not believe that there have been any other similar instances involving Washburn in the past.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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