Exeter teacher arrested, faces child molestation charges

EXETER, Calif. (KFSN) -- A South Valley teacher has been arrested. He's accused of sexually assaulting a student and sending sexually explicit text messages.

Matthew Varpness, 36, has been booked into the Tulare County Pre-Trial Facility. He faces charges of child molestation and annoying a minor. Visalia police say they are not sure if there are more victims out there.

A normal Friday at the Exeter Union High School campus quickly changed for Varpness. Visalia police arrested the teacher before the first bell even rang. On Thursday, Visalia police were called by Exeter police. Varpness is accused of sexually assaulting an Exeter High female student in April of last year.

"Our detectives got involved from our violent crimes unit, they began investigating and found that the assault did in fact occur in April 2014," said Sgt. Damon Maurice with the Visalia Police Department.

Maurice says the alleged assault happened at the suspect's home in Visalia. Police say Varpness began sending sexually explicit text messages after the apparent attack. Maurice added detectives quickly found another victim.

"There was an additional female student at Exeter High School that also stated that this teacher was sending explicit sexual texts and photographs back and forth," said Maurice.

Detectives served search warrants at both the high school and suspect's home looking for more evidence.

"Anything that's going to help us point to what happened not only back in April but the ongoing text messages back and forth throughout 2014," said Maurice.

Police will soon be sending this case to the Tulare County District Attorney's Office for review and to file charges.

The Exeter Police Department is also helping in this investigation. Right now, it's unclear if Varpness is still a teacher at Exeter High. The district's website lists him as a computer and Web design teacher. Action News has not heard back from them yet on this case.

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