Highland School employee arrested for sexual indecency with child

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Deputies arrested a Highland School District employee accused of sexually assaulting a child.

According to the Sharp County Sheriff's Office, 46-year-old Daniel M. Kopp III is charged with felony second-degree sexual assault and four misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The April 15 arrest stemmed from an investigation into misconduct with students while Kopp was employed by the school district as an agriculture teacher, Sheriff Mark Counts said.

Court documents filed on Monday state the Highland Police Department contacted the sheriff's office to begin the investigation into allegations against Kopp on April 14.

Kopp, the victims, and witnesses met at the sheriff's office to talk with an investigator.

Juveniles involved in the case described an April 12 incident where Kopp asked a group of teens to go to Thayer, MO to pick up animal feed. Kopp reportedly told a 16-year-old girl he could not take students from Highland High School because he had gotten into trouble with the administration.

Plans were made to meet at a fast food restaurant. The group then went to Kopp's house in Cherokee Village where he said he had to pick something up, according to the probable cause affidavit.

While there, the teen told investigators Kopp wanted to show her his bathroom and eventually his bedroom.

At one point the girl said Kopp locked the bedroom, gave her alcohol and told her to drink it. The girl took a sip and Kopp urged her to drink more. She did so thinking Kopp would allow her to leave.

Kopp reportedly requested another teen to join them and pressured them to drink more. One of the girls reported being intoxicated.

During the trip to Thayer, Kopp reportedly made inappropriate comments to the girls and inappropriately touched one of the girls as he was driving.

According to the victim's report in the affidavit, Kopp said "we have to buy some feed to make this look believable" once they got to Thayer. The teen was returned to her home without further incident.

The girl told the investigator about another incident on April 14 where Kopp invited her and other students to what she thought was a school-sanctioned rabbit show in Jonesboro.

Again, Kopp said he was not allowed to take students from the school so arrangements were made to pick them up at another student's house.

According to court documents, Kopp took the group to a restaurant in Jonesboro before going to the show. Kopp, according to one teen, bought two beers and told her to drink one of them as they were eating.

The girl initially refused but took a "small sip" after Kopp told her she had to drink it so they could leave.

Once at the show, the victim found that it was not an FFA event, but a group of people selling and showing rabbits at the A-State ROTC building.

Kopp reportedly showed attention to another girl in the group and force her to dance with him in the parking lot, according to the victim. The 15-year-old girl he danced with said she did not ask him to dance and even resisted, but he "forced her to continue."

After about 20 minutes the group returned to Sharp County. On the way back Kopp again was accused of inappropriately touching a girl and talking about past sexual relationships.

The victim texted a family member about the events and in turn contacted the sheriff's office.

Other witnesses corroborated the girl's account of the rabbit show to the investigator.

Kopp spoke with the investigator about the events. According to court documents, he denied giving the students alcohol or talking to them inappropriately.

However, he told the investigator he did not try to stop the teens when he witnessed them drinking. At the Jonesboro restaurant, Kopp said the girl drank some of his beer, but he did nothing to stop her.

Further questioning led Kopp to state that he had made some poor choices in the past few weeks and that he knew he was about to lose his job. He blamed the bad choice on stress after his juvenile son was arrested for making bomb threats at another school district, according to the affidavit.

When questioned about another student not involved in the previous incidents, Kopp said he had a special, but non-sexual, relationship with the girl.

Kopp is being held in the Sharp County Jail in lieu of a $50,000 bond.

Counts said the investigation is continuing and further charges are pending.

The Highland School District released this statement to Region 8 News Saturday night:

"At the Highland School District, the safety of our students is a top priority. We take all accusations very seriously. We are aware of an arrest and are fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation which we cannot comment on at this time. The Highland School District did take immediate action based on the accusation and the accused employee is suspended from our campus pending the outcome of the investigation. The Highland School Board will determine the permanent status of the individual's employment."

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