Phoenix teacher found guilty of sexually abusing 7 girls during math classes

Nov 1, 2023, 2:12 PM | Updated: 2:51 pm

Manuel Gavina was found guilty Oct. 31, 2023, of sexually abusing seven girls while teaching math a...

Manuel Gavina was found guilty Oct. 31, 2023, of sexually abusing seven girls while teaching math at a Phoenix, Arizona, elementary school. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX – A math teacher is heading to prison for groping seven girls at a Phoenix elementary school over a two-year period, authorities said.

A Maricopa County Superior Court jury found 53-year-old Manuel Gavina guilty Tuesday on 14 charges of felony sexual abuse, according to online court records.

Gavina faces between 17.5 and 70 years in prison, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30.

The victims, students at Capitol Elementary School, were all under the age of 15. Prosecutors say Gavina touched the girls’ breasts during math classes.

Gavina was arrested in December 2019. According to online court records, his crimes occurred between August 2017 and August 2019.

“This man is the definition of a sexual predator,” County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in a press release Wednesday. “Teachers are trusted adults in our community. Any child in any classroom in this county should feel safe at school, yet this man violated that childhood peace. I will not stand for these types of attacks on our kids.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously indicated there were 14 victims, all under the age of 16, based on a press release from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. MCAO sent an correction stating that there were seven victims, all under the age of 15.

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Phoenix teacher found guilty of sexually abusing 7 girls during math classes