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FORT WORTH - A substitute teacher was arrested Thursday on a warrant accusing him of raping a 14-year-old girl in a Horizons Alternative School classroom while other students watched.

Police began investigating David Lawson Franklin, 21, on Wednesday after a woman told the school's principal what her son said he had witnessed last week. Franklin was arrested at his home in Fort Worth and taken to the Mansfield Jail. Bail was set at $75,000.

"Quite honestly, initially the details were such we were a little skeptical until we talked to all the parties involved," said Fort Worth police Sgt. Dave Stamp, supervisor of the Crimes Against Children Unit. "Then skepticism turned into shock."

When officers first questioned the girl, she denied that an assault took place but later said it had occurred, Stamp said.

"She was initially embarrassed to talk to anybody about it," he said.

Stamp said statements by other students in the classroom match the girl's account.

"They're all very consistent, the terminology as well as the details of the offense," he said.

Franklin was assigned on Jan. 23 to be a substitute at the alternative school for students with discipline problems. Stamp said Franklin walked into the classroom and found two boys playing with the girl in a sexual manner in a space between a bookshelf and a wall.

According to the students, Stamp said, Franklin asked the boys whether they were trying to have sex with the girl, then told them that he would show them how it's done.

The students who were in the classroom told police that Franklin told the girl to bend over, pulled down her pants and his own, and raped her.

"Because she is a student and he is a teacher in a position of authority, she may have been intimidated by the fact," Stamp said.

About seven students witnessed the incident but did nothing to stop it or report it, Stamp said. The substitute teacher told students in the classroom not to tell anyone about it, Stamp said.

"It's just hard to believe there were so many people present, and nobody took action to stop the assault or notify school staff, and we had to learn about it through a third person," he said.

Fort Worth school district officials declined to comment on the specifics, saying they are cooperating with police on an open investigation.

Cecilia Speers, the district's director of student affairs, said the substitute teacher "no longer is employed with the district."

Police said they believe that Franklin began teaching in the district in August, but school personnel officials could not immediately confirm how long he had been employed.

Staff Writer Gustavo Reveles Acosta Contributed to This Report.

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