PROVO — A Provo High School teacher was arrested Thursday after police say he sexually abused one of his students.
A 17-year-old girl told police that "passionate" kissing, inappropriate touching and sexual activity occurred on "multiple occasions" at the high school.
Science teacher Donald Bills, 54, of Orem, was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of forcible sexual abuse, four counts of object rape, and two counts of forcible sodomy.
The alleged abuse came to light after one of the student's friends found inappropriate text messages on the teen's cellphone, which prompted discussions between the girl, her parents and Bills, said Provo Police Lt. Mathew Siufanua.
The school's principal contacted the Provo School District Thursday morning, and the district later notified police.
The teen told investigators that a first kiss occurred in December but most of the incidents happened within the past two weeks. Bills admitted to kissing, oral sex and inappropriate touching, and he said the last incident occurred on Tuesday, a police affidavit states.
Police are unsure whether the girl consented to the relationship, but, either way, Siufanua said, the behavior was inappropriate.
"When you have that special relationship from a teacher to a student, what does it matter? You know, you've got a person of responsibility taking advantage of somebody who's in their care," he said.
Investigators believe Bills has known the student for "quite a long time," Siufanua said. The incidents allegedly occurred at Provo High before school, during school hours and possibly after school.
"We can't watch every single person every single minute of the day in schools," said district spokesman Caleb Price.
Bills, who has been placed on leave, has been a teacher at the school for at least five years, according to Price, and was well-liked by students.
Bills taught the EMS, sports medicine, and anatomy and physiology courses at Provo High School and the girl was one of his students, Siufanua said.
Police do not believe there are additional victims but encourage anyone with information about the case to notify them.16 comments on this story
Some students contacted at the school Friday said they were shocked to find out about the arrest because they knew Bills as a good teacher who students admired.
"It was just really surprising to hear," said Nicole, a Provo High student.
Another student, Olivia, said that she had gone into his sports training office before when some of her friends needed help with injuries and found him to be friendly and accommodating.
"I never expected anything like that. It kind of scares me," she said.
Contributing: Andrew Adams