Monday, July 20, 2009

Diverse portraits emerge of teacher in student-sex scandal

It appears that in the following story, the young woman's story has changed several times, and even the D.A. wouldn't prosecute. DCS couldn't even find anything amiss. And anyone who has had dealings with DCS knows they are tenacious in finding something.

And once again, we see him named, and she retains anonymity.

KNOXVILLE — Attorneys presented opening statements today in the hearing of Halls High School math teacher Corey DeHart before the Knox County school board.

One described DeHart as a teacher who took advantage of a female student who was having trouble at home and confided in him. Another described him as an amazing teacher who had a gift for reaching students but was picked out by a student who wanted attention.

DeHart has been accused of sexual contact with a female student, who was 16 at the time of the alleged incident. The student, now 18, will also testify before the school board.

This afternoon Marty McCampbell, attorney representing Knox County School superintendent Jim McIntyre who’s bringing tenure revocation charges against DeHart, said although charges against DeHart were dismissed in Knox County Criminal Court, no jury ever heard the student’s story.

“She turned to Mr. DeHart when she was having trouble in her home life,” McCampbell said. “That teacher she confided in took advantage of her vulnerability. He didn’t refer her to a guidance counselor.”

The fallout from the alleged incident included the student being subjected to ridicule of students at school.

The student “is going to tell the entire truth,” McCampbell said.

It is true that she first denied the allegations when she first spoke with Halls Principal Mark Duff and the Department of Children’s Services.

“She did not have the courage to tell the whole story,” McCampbell said. But after working with her therapist “she was able to come back and tell the whole story.”

Virginia McCoy, who is representing DeHart, countered that the story the board is to hear is “about a girl who told a lie to a friend, who was a boy... and that lie got bigger and bigger the longer she told it until it got ridiculous.”

The student also gave conflicting accounts of what occurred.

McCoy noted that the district attorney couldn’t prove the charges and dismissed the indictment.

“DCS ... are zealots from the floor to the ceiling. If they could find something, they would have found something,” McCoy said. The department issued an unfounded determination.

The school system “has charged (DeHart) with things the district attorney and DCS opted not to pursue.”

McCoy said she would produce witnesses, many of them former students of DeHart who were also in class with the student.

“You’ll find that she’s not a credible witness,” she said.

The board should conclude that DeHart “was badly treated by this system” and reinstate him with back pay.

The school board will decide whether the charges warrant revocation of DeHart’s tenure.

DeHart was placed on paid leave until December 2007, then on unpaid leave.

DeHart began teaching at Halls, his alma mater, in 1998 and was tenured in 2001.