Police say a Mount Vernon school teacher used a social media app to try to arrange a sexual encounter with a Troy teen, and they’re concerned he may have had contact with other minors.
Kevin W. Battas, 25, has been charged with indecent solicitation of a child and grooming.
“We hope that’s not the case,” Troy Police Department Chief Brad Parsons said. “But we’re concerned that it could be.”
Battas was arrested Wednesday night. He was held on $150,000 bond but was released around 5 p.m. Thursday after posting $15,000 bail.
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Parsons said authorities were able to nab Battas before he actually made physical contact with the 14-year-old eighth-grader with whom he was communicating.
“Smart-phones and social media apps have created new avenues for predators to contact and solicit children,” Parsons said. “As parents we need to be aware of what our children are doing on their phones and who they are communicating with. We’re lucky that in this case we were able to intervene before any of the acts could be carried out.”
According to police, Battas used an anonymous app named Whisper to contact the child and then “discussed an act of sexual contact with a minor and offered to perform sexual acts upon the minor.”
Parsons said police were only able to prevent the meeting of the victim and the suspect because her mother noticed inappropriate communications with Battas on her cell phone.
Battas was interviewed by Troy police last week at the Mount Vernon police department, at which time they seized his phone with a search warrant and had it forensically analyzed.
Parsons said police could not tell from the information on the phone if Battas had contact with other minors through Whisper.
Police did not release the screen name Battas was using on Whisper.
The suspect was called Wednesday and told he could come get his phone in Troy. When he showed up at the police department, he was arrested.
Battas is a math teacher at Mount Vernon High School who has no previous criminal record, according to police.
Bill Beck, president of the Mount Vernon Township High School school board, said he was aware that police had spoken within the last week to a teacher in the school system. But he said he was unaware that Battas had been arrested at the time a reporter called Thursday. Beck said he didn’t know yet if there would be an investigation into whether Battas had any improper contact with students in the district where he taught.
Indecent solicitation of a child is a class 3 felony and carries a sentence of 2-5 years in prison. Grooming is class 4 felony and carries a sentence of 1-3 years in prison.
If parents are concerned their children may have had contact with Battas, Parsons said they should call their local police department or the Troy Police Department at 618-667-6731.