RIVERTON, Utah (KUTV) - Riverton, Utah, Police officers arrested a former middle school teacher on Friday for kidnapping a girl by placing her in a plastic bin and taking her into his classroom, as well as for other inappropriate relations with students in the past.
According to probable cause statements, detectives with the Riverton Police Department were notified over Thanksgiving weekend about a middle school teacher having inappropriate conversations and relations with multiple teenaged students. Lucas Sloan Talley, 38, has been a teacher at South Hills Middle School for the past 12 years and had been in personal contact with multiple young girls during the duration of his career. Much of the interactions were of personal nature and not related to school.
Talley began having an emotional relationship with a female victim in April and talked to the victim about his marriage as well as his anxiety and depression. He also began taking treats to her home, spending time with her inside of the house, and physically hugged her during these visits according to the PC statements.
Talley also made plans to meet up with the victim twice at South Hills Middle School while the school was closed to students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During these visits, Talley told the victim to get inside a large black and yellow Sterilite bin and then would wheel the bin by dolly into his classroom. He would then shut and lock the door of his classroom so that no one else in the building would see her. Talley told police that he made these arrangements without the victim's knowledge and even placed a label inside the bin that said "hope your box is comfortable."
Detectives discovered that the victim was touched inappropriately multiple times by Talley, having touched her inner thigh and rubbing her leg. The victim was uncomfortable was scared something sexual was about to happen and did not want to be in this setting with Talley. Up until the investigation, Talley had told no one about placing the victim into a bin and wheeling her into his classroom. He told detectives that "he does not feel a girl [her age] is able to consent or even choose to be put into a bin and wheeled into his classroom."
According to documents, Talley had thought about becoming a couple with the victim, but knew he would have to wait several years before he could get to that point. He told detectives that he loved the victim, and multiple emails, texts, and video messages were found with Talley telling the victim he loves and misses her and wants to talk and see her on a daily basis.
Talley also told detectives that he had anxiety and panic attacks and would reach out to multiple young girls to see if they could talk to him and help him through his anxiety attacks. He talked to girls who also have issues with anxiety, depression, or other struggles that he is aware of. He would not talk to some girls about personal issues if they had no struggles he was aware of. Detectives have located several young girls Talley had contacted in the past few months regarding his depression and marriage issues.
Talley admitted to detectives that he "realized that he needs the validation" from the female students and "thrives on it." When the school shut down due to the pandemic, Talley struggled with not having his "validation" so he began talking to the victim daily Mondays through Fridays. Talley was aware that he was overstepping his teacher role but considered his interactions with the victim "a type of therapy."
The victim's mother told Talley to stop contacting her daughter in June, which he acknowledged but continued to send messages to the victim anyway, according to the PC statement. He told detectives that the parents of his other victims have told him to stop talking to their daughters as well.
Talley downplayed and lied about aspects of the case when interviewed by detectives, and initially denied having contact with students outside of a school setting. Detectives are currently investigating other cases that will be linked to Talley.
The PC statement said that Talley has had suicidal tendencies in the past year due to his anxiety and depression and once drove to Fort Collins, Colorado because "he wanted to get away from everything." Authorities believe he may be more of a risk to himself due to heightened feelings of anxiety and depression as a result of the arrest and is considered a flight risk when "overwhelmed by his feelings."
Talley had resigned from South Hills Middle School a week prior to the arrest. He was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on two counts of kidnapping, a felony. Authorities requested to not have him released on bail for the safety of the community, the victim, and Talley himself.
Individuals charged in complaints are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.