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August 20, 2014

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Former kindergarten teacher ordered to stand trial on porn, kidnapping charges

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L.E. Baskow

Defense attorney John Momot presents an argument for Melvyn Sprowson looking down during a preliminary hearing on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.

Melvyn Sprowson In Court

Defense attorney John Momot presents an argument for Melvyn Sprowson looking down during a preliminary hearing on Monday,  Dec. 9, 2013. Launch slideshow »

A former kindergarten teacher in the Clark County School District has been ordered to stand trial on charges related to a romantic relationship with a 16-year-old runaway.

At a hearing this morning, Melvyn Perry Sprowson Jr., 45, was bound over for trial in Clark County District Court on one count of first-degree kidnapping and five counts of unlawful use of a minor over 14 in production of pornography.

The charges stem from the former kindergarten teacher’s relationship with a 16-year-old girl he met through Craigslist.

Las Vegas Township Judge William Kephart, who presided over the hearing, said what offended the court so much about the case was Sprowson's role as a teacher. Kephart pointed out that, as a teacher, Sprowson was required by law to report illegal acts involving a minor.

The high school sophomore ran away from home in late August to live with Sprowson after the teen’s mother uncovered the relationship. Although a 16-year-old can consent to sex, it is illegal to keep a minor from his or her parents, even if the minor consents, according to Nevada law.

During an emotional hearing last week, the girl testified she ran away because she wanted to live with Sprowson.

“If you don’t come get me, I’m going to kill myself,” the girl testified she told Sprowson. “Either he picked me up or I would die that night.”

Both the mother and daughter testified during the preliminary hearing, revealing more details about the daughter’s devotion to Sprowson and the mother’s battle to keep her daughter safe.

The girl testified she and Sprowson’s plan had been for her to get emancipated, get her high school equivalency diploma and go to college and for them to live together.

“In a perfect scenario, my mom would have done the right thing, but she can’t accept that,” the girl testified.

“I’m here to protect my children,” the mother said in her testimony. “Something like that is not OK with me.”

During the hearing, it was revealed this wasn’t the first time the teen’s sexual conduct with an older man had ended up in court.

John Momot, Sprowson's attorney, pleaded with the judge to order the prosecution to hand over documents related to another case involving the teen. Jacqueline Bluth, a chief deputy district attorney, argued such an order was beyond the scope of the lower-court proceedings.

Momot said he wanted to question the teen on the stand about that case. Momot also complained that the mother wouldn’t allow him to interview the teen, who Momot said might want to talk to the defense.

Kephart pointed out that’s the crux of the case against Sprowson.

“The very issue is that until (the minor) turns 18, she is technically the property of her parents,” Kephart said. “That’s the whole issue that we’re involved in with in this case.”

Kephart denied Momot’s motion for the documents but said that doesn’t prevent him from raising the point in District Court.

Sprowson, who is no longer employed by the Clark County School District, started his job at Wengert Elementary School in August. He resigned as a fifth-grade teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District in January 2013. During his nearly decade-long tenure in California, Sprowson faced allegations of sexual abuse involving female students in fourth and fifth grade. Sprowson was investigated but never charged and did not lose his teaching license.

He remains in Clark County Detention Center on a $650,000 bail.

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