By Sarah Nagem and Joe Johnson, The News & Observer
DURHAM — A former Montessori school employee in Durham who has been accused in Arizona of molesting a child faces new charges in North Carolina, including child-sex crimes and crimes related to secret peeping.
Nathan Elder, 44, of Durham has been charged by the Durham Police Department’s Special Victims Unit with “33 counts of possession of images obtained in violation of secretly peeping while using a photographic device,” Durham police said Friday.
Hillsborough police also charged Elder with seven counts of indecent liberties with a minor and seven counts of possession of images obtained through secret peeping, according to a Durham Police Department news release.
He currently is in jail in Maricopa County, Ariz., on unrelated charges, police said. He was charged in December in Phoenix with molesting a child, Durham police said.
Police in Durham began investigating Elder after receiving a tip from someone who expressed concerns that Elder had access to children through his job at “a local Montessori school,” according to a news release sent Friday.
Tammy Squires, Head of School at the Montessori School of Durham, confirmed Elder worked as a part-time employee at the school but was not a teacher. He was a “lunch and after-school employee” for about three-and-a-half months last fall, Squires said in an email statement to The News & Observer.
The school learned Jan. 1 about Elder’s arrest in Arizona and fired him, she said in the email. None of the charges filed involve any of the school’s children, she said.
“Since learning of Elder’s arrest in Arizona, we have worked closely with law enforcement authorities, communicated directly with our families, provided resources and information to parents about how to talk to their children, and undertaken a review of our current policies and procedures,” Squires said. “The Montessori School of Durham prioritizes the safety and welfare of all of our students.“
Investigators searched Elder’s electronic devices, police said, and found “33 images that violate North Carolina’s secret peeping laws.”
The investigators identified photos they believe might be related to crimes that happened in Wake and Orange counties, and also in Alabama, Arizona and California, Durham police said.
“Durham police investigators continue to work with local law enforcement agencies to contact the families of the children and pursue charges in those local jurisdictions,” the news release said.
Elder was also accused of inappropriately touching two children, ages and 7 and 9, in California days before he went to Phoenix in December, ABC11 reported in January.
Anyone with information about Elder is asked to contact Durham police investigator A.R. Bongarten at 919-560-4440 ext. 29349 or CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200.