Qikai "Ben" Chen Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Child Abuse; Basis Charter School Boots Its Former Teacher


Qikai "Ben" Chen, a former math teacher at Scottsdale's Basis Charter School, pleaded not guilty today to a felony charge of child abuse.

The arraignment comes after a second arrest for Chen following an indictment, and also after his former employer gave the alleged child-beater the boot.

Chen, if you'll recall from our April 21 blog post, reportedly admitted to police that he bashed the face of his boyfriend's 6-year-old daughter after she woke him up from a nap. The boyfriend was out of town.

The case began after the girl showed up at her Chandler elementary school with "significant bruising" on her face. Child Protective Services got involved, then the police. Chen was arrested after he confessed to having shoved the tyke's head into a metal door hinge -- twice.

Basis charter school officials informed the Arizona Department of Public Safety about the arrest, and the agency suspended Chen's fingerprint certification. That meant Chen could no longer work in a classroom, giving Basis a reason to terminate his contract, says the school's spokeswoman, Arwynn Gilroy.

He won't be returning to the school -- ever, adds Gilroy.

No problems had been reported with Chen in the year he worked with the school.

"This really came entirely out of the blue for us," she says.

Though Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's office didn't file charges after Chen's arrest last month, it now looks like the office means business. Chen was indicted by a grand jury on April 29 and an arrest warrant served on May 19, leading to the new mug shot posted here. (The court records list his name as "Qukai," but Gilroy says he always spelled it "Qikai." It's pronounced "Chee-ki.")

Chen's Tempe lawyer this morning, Cindy Castillo, hasn't yet returned our call.

Besides losing his job, we can only assume he's also lost both his boyfriend and roomie privileges at the boyfriend's Chandler apartment.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.