Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Police: Runaway teen and kindergarten teacher shared romance

Melvyn Sprowson

Melvyn Sprowson

What started as a runaway teen looking for a Craigslist roommate turned into a romance with a 44-year-old kindergarten teacher, according to a Metro Police arrest report released today.

The alleged relationship, while not illegal under Nevada law, landed Melvyn Perry Sprowson Jr. in the Clark County Detention on a count of kidnapping on Nov. 1 after Metro Police found the missing teen at his apartment.

The girl, 16, told police she had been frustrated with her mother and was looking for a way out when she found Sprowson’s advertisement on Craigslist, the report said.

The two started texting and when she told him on Aug. 29 she couldn’t take being home anymore, he picked her up, reports said.

That’s where Sprowson’s trouble with the law began, according to the arrest report.

Under Nevada law, it is illegal to carry away or detain a minor with the intent to keep the minor from his or her parents, even if the minor consents.

Craiglist and emails led police to Sprowson, who during an interview said he knew the teen, but had only exchanged messages with her, police said. Sprowson said he once wired the girl $150 but didn’t know her whereabouts when he was questioned, police said.

When police showed up at his apartment, however, they found the girl.

The teen told police she and Sprowson had said “I love you” to each other and had started sharing a bed, according to the report.

Sprowson had talked with the teen about going back to school when she turned 18 and about trying to become emancipated, she reportedly told police.

Sprowson’s position as a kingergarten teacher at Wengert Elementary School led Las Vegas Township Judge William Kephart on Wednesday to set bail for Sprowson at $530,000.

Prosecutors asked for $56,000 bail, but Kephart said Sprowson’s job warranted a higher bail.

“I know that there is a presumption of innocence here; I understand that. But the problem I’m having with this is the nature of his employment, his dishonesty with the police when they first talked to him,” Kephart said.

“What he is doing in our community, what his job is in our community, he has somewhat of a higher responsibility to our children, I think, than somebody who is not educated,” the judge said.

In addition to a first-degree kidnapping charge, which could send him to prison for life, Sprowson also is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, giving a false statement to police and child abuse or neglect.

A preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m. Nov. 21.

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