It's a case that sent a shudder through Pinedale Elementary School and the peaceful neighborhood that surrounds it in western Rapid City.
Twenty-eight-year-old custodian Casey Godfrey was arrested at the school Thursday and charged with using the internet to solicit sex with a minor. Godfrey, who was being held without bond in the Pennington County Jail, had been a district employee since July, after passing mandatory screening.
"We conduct thorough background checks, which involve fingerprinting. And we don't hire if anything in that background check that comes back is cause for alarm," Katie Bray, assistant district superintendent said.
The background checks are part of an extensive school security system that Bray says involves cameras and keyless-entry doors that add to school safety. But regardless how well designed and effective, it's impossible to make a system 100-percent secure against everything.
"We train our principals on school safety," Bray said. "But even the most well trained people can't always detect and intercept every situation."
Bray said there supervisors hadn't reported any problems or concerns with Godfrey prior to the charges. He had worked with a clearning crew at several schools in the district, as well as the school-city administration building, before spending the last six weeks at Pinedale.
Bray said the district works to provide the most secure and safe school system possible "yet keep an environment that feels like a school."
Officers for the Rapid City Police Department and a multi-agency Internet Crimes Against Children task force took Godfrey into custody after a tip from a task force in another state. Investigators who include the police, Pennington County Sheriff's Office and state Division of Criminal Investigation, say that connection to child-protection task forces in other states is essential to protecting minors.
"It allows us as law enforcement to have a contact in another state that is familiar with conducting computer investigations and knows how the internet works and these cases operate," DCI special agent Brent Gromer said.
The allegations against Godfrey involve only activities on the internet, but the investigation is continuing. Solicitation of a minor is a Class 4 felony with a maximum penalty of a $20,000 fine and 10 years in prison.