Salem

Salem gym teacher arrested on child enticement charge

Darren Benedick, a physical education and health teacher at Salem Academy Charter School, was arrested Wednesday in a sting operation, Massachusetts prosecutors said

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A teacher in Salem, Massachusetts, has been arrested on allegations of child exploitation.

Prosecutors say 42-year-old Darren Benedick of Salem was arraigned Wednesday in Newburyport District Court on charges of child enticement and dissemination of matter harmful to minors.

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Benedick, who teaches physical education and health at Salem Academy Charter School, was arrested Wednesday in a sting operation, according to the Essex County District Attorney's Office.

He is accused of making plans to meet someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl, but was actually an undercover officer with the Newbury Police Department. The officer was monitoring a "teens-only" chat room, prosecutors said.

"The defendant is alleged to have engaged in online conversations with the undercover officer expressing a desire to meet in person and engage in sexual activities, to have sent an obscene image to the officer, and to have described the sex acts that he wished to perform," the district attorney's office said in a press release. "A meeting was set for Wednesday, July 3 and the defendant was taken into custody upon arrival for the intended encounter."

A judge set Benedick's bail at $5,000 with conditions requiring GPS monitoring, home confinement and no contact with children, prosecutors said.

The Salem Academy Charter School said it had placed Benedick on administrative leave immediately after learning of his arrest.

"We are in communication with the police, and will cooperate with their ongoing investigation," Executive Director Stephanie Callahan said in a statement. "Authorities stated they have not received any allegations that Salem Academy students were involved."

It was not immediately clear if Benedick had an attorney who could answer to the charges.

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