A middle-school orchestra teacher in Indiana appears to be under investigation after he reportedly sent inappropriate messages to a local high school student.
Ben Yoder, 37, is the director of orchestras at Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate and Junior High School in Fishers, Indiana, a suburb northeast of Indianapolis. According to a new report from the Daily Signal, Yoder recently contacted a local high school student on Instagram and sent the kid messages hinting that his interest in the young man extended beyond the bounds of the proper student-teacher relationship.
A screenshot taken by a concerned parent suggests that the Instagram account @bennyboobooboo, believed to belong to Yoder, contacted the student via direct message last August, just before the student was to begin his senior year of high school. During their conversation, "Benny" first attempted to ascertain the student's age, asking, "Are you out yet? Or is this senior year?" The student, whose name has not been released on account of his age but who is male and who attends Hamilton Southeastern High School, confirmed that he still has "one more [year] left" of school.
Despite learning that his correspondent was still in high school, Benny then discussed his desire to "get in trouble" with the young man. "I guess it's not quite time to invite you to get in trouble quite yet lol," Benny replied.
When the student pressed Benny to explain what he meant by "trouble," Benny suggested that the juvenile "let [his] imagination run wild." He then added, "Trouble is pretty much whatever you want to make it lol."
"I'll do my best to wait haha," Benny stated.
The Daily Signal admitted that it has not been able "to independently confirm the accuracy of the screenshots, or that the Instagram account belongs to Yoder and is not an impersonation." However, the Instagram account in question has reportedly posted pictures of Yoder and his students for years.
The Daily Signal also claimed that Yoder has previously shared explicit photos and messages on other social media accounts, but that he deleted most of the objectionable posts last May when he was elected to — and then almost immediately resigned from — the vice president position of the Indiana State Teachers Association.
"At the gay strip club," a 2011 tweet from Yoder allegedly stated. "Getting ready to watch co**s swing alllllllll night."
More recently, Yoder pinned a tweet to the top of his alleged Twitter account showing a statement he made in 2020: "My students recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, but children who look like me cannot count on the promise of liberty and justice for all."
Other screenshots indicate that Yoder wants greater "representation" of gay people in music and teaching and that he supports teaching kids about so-called "preferred pronouns"
Emily Abbotts, Hamilton Southeastern Schools’ director of school and community relations, told the Daily Signal that the district had received word regarding Yoder's alleged messages through "the district’s anonymous mobile reporting app." Abbotts added that the district investigates "any concerns brought to our attention," but in the interest of preserving "the integrity of this investigation" and to protect the identity of those involved, the district would not discuss the matter "publicly."
The Fishers Police Department likewise stated that officials are "aware of the incident, and we are looking into it."
Yoder has been with the Hamilton Southeastern district for at least 13 years. According to a feature article about Yoder in Ball State University magazine, Yoder, a BSU alum who advocates for "equity and inclusion," was named Indiana's Middle School Music Educator of the Year in 2020.
Yoder did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Signal.
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