UPDATE: Whitwell High School teacher arrested for statutory rape - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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UPDATE: Whitwell High School teacher arrested for statutory rape off the job

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MARION COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Channel 3 is learning more about the firing of a Marion County teacher.

The sheriff's office arrested Joseph Smith on Friday and charged him with statutory rape by an authority figure.

Joseph Smith has been an employee with the Marion County School District since 2013. This was the first time administrators received a complaint about him.

“No reports previously, like I said, had a good clean record. No issues in the classroom,” said Superintendent of Marion County Schools, Dr. Mark Griffith.

Joseph Smith taught career courses at Whitwell High School, and was the middle school's baseball coach, until Friday.

“Once the evidence was revealed to me and became substantial, employment was no longer an option,” said Dr. Griffith.

Last week an employee at the high school raised concerns about the relationship between the 36-year-old teacher and a 17-year-old student.

“The student was hanging around a lot, just some questions that were being raised,” said Dr. Griffith.

Griffith said he called the school resource officer and contacted the Department of Children's Services hotline. He asked the principal to launch an internal investigation when DCS did not schedule a visit.

“The Department of Children's Services did not send anyone out," Dr. Griffith said. "They did send an email notification that did not fall under the rules of Tennessee Rules of Abuse and Neglect. So after that troubling information, I notified Ms. Casseday to go ahead and conduct an internal investigation.”

The results of that investigation led to Smith's arrest. Under Tennessee law, the age of consent is 18. Anyone, 17 or younger, is not legally able to consent to sexual activity.

Griffith said the event that led to the charge occurred on school property.

“Shocked, concern, anger, very frustrated; we put folks in place to protect our students," Dr. Griffith said. "When something like this happens it is very troubling.”

According to the state's website, DCS investigators typically hold initial interviews with the child involved to determine their immediate safety.

We reached out to DCS to find out why no one was sent to interview the student. A spokesperson in Nashville tells Channel 3, he's looking into it.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


UPDATE: A Marion County teacher, who was arrested Friday, February 16, 2018, for statutory rape, will be in court Wednesday.

Sheriff Bo Burnett confirms the arrest of Whitwell High School teacher Joseph "Joey" Smith for statutory rape by an authority figure.

Smith is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student in his office.

According to the school's website, Smith was a CTE instructor and also serves as the head baseball coach for Whitwell Middle School. He had been with the school district since 2013 and was terminated Friday.

He remains in the Marion County Jail with no bond.  

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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