Yuma High teacher arrested in pornography case
(UPDATED 5:34 p.m.) A Yuma High School teacher and athletic trainer was arrested on 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor Tuesday after authorities found alleged child pornography in his home.
Michael Cox, 37, was arrested by members of the Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (AZ ICAC), Tucson Police Department, Phoenix Police Department and Yuma Police Department detectives. Cox was found in possession of pornographic images of children on his computer after a search warrant was served at his home.
“During the interview, Cox admitted he was in possession of videos and pictures of young children being sexually abused,” stated YPD officials.
Cox was booked into the Yuma County Adult Detention Facility on Tuesday and his bond was set at $100,000.
According to YPD, the AZ ICAC launched an Internet investigation a month ago. YPD detectives assisted AZ ICAC with the execution of the search warrant to Cox’s home in the 2900 block of S. Palo Verde Lane and also seized several electronic media devices.
Yuma Union High School District Superintendent Toni Badone said that Cox has been reassigned and excluded from school property until further notice. She added that they have also alerted the Arizona Department of Education to the case.
With Wednesday (today) being the first day of school for Yuma High and other district schools, their first order of business is to move forward with classes, but they also plan to make sure that students and staff are supported.
“Yuma High is ready for school to start tomorrow and we’re going to focus on our kids... We will have folks on hand to talk with students or staff who are concerned or upset by this news. Needless to say we were all very, very shocked,” Badone said on Tuesday.
District counselors will be on hand to talk with students and staff and Antelope Union High School District will also be assisting with counseling support.
Sgt. Leanne Worthen, YPD public information officer, noted that authorities plan to collaborate with the school in the event of students or staff having information they would like to share about the case.
Badone said that Yuma High administration held a meeting with all teachers reviewing the mandatory reporting process and procedures to support students and staff as well. Following the teacher meeting, school officials met also met with campus coaches.
“In an earlier meeting, athletic directors and athletic trainers from other schools in the district met to develop a plan to support Yuma High athletes during the fall season,” stated YUHSD officials. “Baseline testing for concussion protocols, helmet fittings, wet bulb readings and other pre-season responsibilities normally performed by the athletic trainer are being shared by Yuma High coaches with support from sister schools.”
District officials added that YUHSD employs over 900 people, all of whom must submit fingerprints and be cleared through the Department of Public Safety. Volunteers, with the exception of parents, are also required to be cleared through DPS.
The case remains under investigation. YPD encourages anyone with information or questions about this case to log on to www.AZICAC.org or contact the YPD Investigations Bureau at (928) 373-4670 or 78-Crime to remain anonymous.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.