Sexual Misconduct Alleged, Teacher Investigated - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/12/04

Sexual Misconduct Alleged, Teacher Investigated

Hilton Head High Hilton Head High

Authorities are investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by a Low Country teacher. The alleged victim was one of her students. The Hilton Head High School teacher has not been charged with anything, but the Beaufort County sheriff's office tells WTOC they're looking into it.

Investigators aren't releasing the names of anyone involved, but rumors are flying through the halls of Hilton Head High. "We shouldn't jump to making any accusations about what's going on," said parent Sharon Brown. "I hope every parent in their house will tell their students, 'Let's keep an open mind about things, because we don't know what took place. We weren't there.'"

School district officials say their own internal investigation of something completely separate from the sexual exploitation claims led them to rumors that they passed along to the sheriff's office. The unidentified teacher is currently suspended with pay right now, charged with inadequate record keeping.

"The sheriff's office is investigating allegations into criminal actions," said the school district's John Williams. "Our suspension does not involve that. Our suspension involves violations of district procedures and regulations."

Williams says he's not sure how the criminal investigation will affect the teacher's status. If they press charges while she's still on staff, Williams told us, "having charges filed does not necessarily connote any additional discipline, because we do believe that you are innocent until proven guilty of these charges. However, circumstances can weigh heavily on that decision."

Investigators say they may have an idea if they'll press charges by the end of this week.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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