Police: Former D-51 sub accused of trying to sexually assault student

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) -- A former substitute teacher at Central High School was charged with attempted sexual assault on a child.

Matthew Popick, 31

Matthew Popick, 31, was a full-time substitute social studies teacher at Central, according to Emily Shockley with the District 51.

Police said Popick sent sexually explicit text messages to a 16-year-old female student and invited her to his house to have sex.

"Matthew Popick was employed from January 12, 2016 to May 19, 2016 as a temporary substitute," said Shockley. "District 51 became aware of the investigation in June and has not offered him any employment since."

According to an arrest affidavit, Popick became friends with the girl. She said their conversations became sexual when she made a comment in front of Popick, saying “if school didn’t work out she could become a stripper.”

According to investigators, the girl said Popick heard this and told her he would watch her and she could practice on him.

Central High School students were unaware of the incident, but supportive of their classmate. They said it's hard to believe something like this happened.

"Especially here at Central, because teachers and students have a good connection," said senior, Sophia Lozano. "It's odd because every substitute that comes in is a good substitute."

Investigators released text messages that Popick sent the girl detailing his desire to have sex with her. Court papers show Popick eventually invited the girl to come to his house for sex while his wife was out of town.

According to affidavit, the girl contacted another Central High School teacher and the principal about the messages from Popick. School officials contacted the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office who began an investigation.

Shockley said Popick never worked for the District under contract, and he has not worked for District 51 since the investigation.

Experts said it is not uncommon for something like this to occur. In 2015, more than 400 kids in Mesa County reported a sexual assault or abuse.

"It is really, really important as the victim to understand that you did nothing wrong, you are the victim," said Jody Brandon from the Western Slope Center for Children. "Tell somebody about it, let them know, and let that adult make that decision about how to handle this."

District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said Popick was released on bond on Tuesday and is scheduled back in court on November 8 for a formal filing of charges.

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