Sex offender, 29, poses as 12-year-old student

PHOENIX (AP) – A convicted sex offender attended at least two Arizona middle schools, sat through seventh-grade courses and turned in homework as he moved around the state pretending to be 12 years old, officials say.

Authorities in Yavapai County have accused Neil Havens Rodreick II, who is really 29, of assaulting a girl. They are not releasing details.

Rodreick was arrested last week after spending a day at the Mingus Springs Charter School in Chino Valley, about 90 miles northwest of Phoenix. School officials there called police after checking what they called a phony birth certificate and other admissions documents.

He has been charged with misdemeanor assault, conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to commit forgery, failing to register as a sex offender and possession of a forgery device. He remains in the Yavapai County jail.

The sheriff’s office there said Rodreick conned two men he was living with and having sex with into believing he was a young boy. One of them, 61-year-old Lonnie Stiffler, called himself Rodreick’s grandfather when he tried to enroll him at Mingus Springs as “Casey Price.”

Officials at another school, in the Phoenix area, said they were reviewing their admissions policies to figure out how they could have let an adult sex offender mix with students for so long.

“Our first priority is to help our students and our families establish a sense of security on our campus,” said Rhonda Cagle, spokeswoman for the Imagine School at Rosefield, a charter school for kindergartners through eighth-graders, that Rodreick attended sporadically from August to November.

Rodreick showed up Aug. 14 at the Imagine School, officials said. He came to class from time to time, attending about 50 days until November, when administrators kicked him out for poor attendance.

“He was quiet,” Cagle said of Rodreick. “He turned in his homework. There were no discipline issues. He was never sent to the principal’s office. By most accounts he was aloof and kept to himself.”

On Wednesday, officials of the Imagine School gave parents letters saying locks had been added to security gates and the school was working on a task force to evaluate parents’ suggestions on school safety.

Parent Tricia Provost said as she dropped off her 10-year-old son and 6- and 8-year-old daughters at the school Wednesday that she wasn’t worried. “I have a feeling this school is going to become the safest school in the country,” Provost said.

Police say Rodreick may also have tried to enroll in other Arizona schools.

Authorities say Stiffler and Robert James Snow, 43, met Rodreick online, thinking he was a preteen, took him from Oklahoma to Arizona and carried on a sexual relationship with him. They were arrested after authorities served a search warrant at their Chino Valley home Thursday along with Brian J. Nellis, 34, a friend who authorities say followed Rodreick from Oklahoma to Arizona.

The Yavapai County attorney’s office said it charged all three, along with Rodreick, with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit forgery. Nellis and Snow were also charged with failing to register as sex offenders.

Because Snow and Stiffler are accused of thinking they were having sex with a minor, they were charged with attempted child molestation and attempted sexual contact with a minor.

All four men remain in jail. Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk would not comment Tuesday.

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