Salt Lake City School Board member resigns, faces new charge of object rape of a child

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A Salt Lake City School Board member who was arrested for sexual exploitation of a minor has resigned from his position.

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A district spokesperson tells ABC4 that Joél-Léhi Organista submitted his resignation to the board Friday. His removal from the board will take effect immediately.

Organista was arrested on multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a minor on Wednesday.

As of Friday, court documents show he now faces an additional charge of object rape of a child.

The Salt Lake City School Board held a press conference to address allegations against the board member Thursday afternoon. In a prepared statement, the board said they “condemn” the actions of Organista.

“I don’t know where to start,” said board member Mohamed Bayd, fighting off tears during the press conference. “As a parent, as a new elected board member, my heart is shattered to pieces.”

According to information from police reports, Organista has admitted to downloading and viewing child pornography. Additionally, during a search of his electronic devices, arresting officers located a Snapchat on Organista’s iPhone that showed explicit conversations with children identified between the ages of 12 to 17.

The probable cause statement says that in the Snapchat conversations, Organista would ask the children for sexual photographs and to commit sexual acts on video chats. Saved images on the Snapchat also showed clear examples of child pornography, according to the statement.

The police report continued with officers noting “Organista has access to young children in his current position of trust involving grades K-12. Joel has shown that, through electronic means, he frequently meets children online, solicits nude photographs from them, and has private online video conversations with them.”

“To engage in any such conduct or to exploit or endanger any child is indefensible,” board president Melissa Ford said in the statement.

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