Wenatchee elementary teacher faces aggravated child molestation charges

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A Wenatchee elementary school teacher has been arrested for allegedly molesting two female students more than a decade ago.

Wenatchee police say Joe Ells, 58, kissed the 8-year-old girls on the lips.

Those incidents allegedly happened during the 2005-2006 school year at Columbia Elementary.

The first alleged victim told police Ells kissed her several times a week.
According to court documents, the girl’s mother saw one of the kisses.

Ells reportedly admitted to police he kissed both girls.

Chelan County Deputy Prosecutor Nicole Hankins said Ells will be charged with aggravated child molestation in the first degree.

The allegations came to light in June.

“A roommate of one of the alleged victims contacted the school district … and they reported to law enforcement and law enforcement followed up,” Hankins said.

The contact between Ells and the alleged victims went beyond simple kisses she said.

“What we’re talking about is tongue in mouth kissing from the teacher to the student, Hankins said.

Teacher won’t be in the classroom

In a statement Friday, the Wenatchee School District said “the safety and well-being of our staff and students are of the highest priority. The District cannot comment on specific personnel matters.”

The district referred to its attorney, Danielle Marchant, for any additional comments.

Ells has been placed on leave, Marchant said.

“We can say he will not begin the school year in a classroom,” Marchant said. “The district is also highly committed to the safety of its students and is cooperating with the criminal investigation that the Wenatchee Police Department has instituted.”

After a Wenatchee World story about Ells’ arrest, a woman on the Facebook page Wenatchee Crime and Events posted that she was the second alleged victim.

She described Ells as a great teacher.

Further, she said he had only kissed her once, and that was on the top of her head.

Hankins said Wenatchee police contacted that woman.

“Law enforcement followed up with her but she is not an active victim listed in our case currently,” Hankins said.