PITTSBORO – A Vardaman coach was formally charged and arrested Wednesday morning after allegations of inappropriate contact with a student were reported last week to authorities.
Billy Joe Dill, Jr., 36, a softball coach at Vardaman High School, was charged with fondling, sexual battery and enticement of a child in Calhoun County Circuit Court Wednesday morning with bond set at $80,000 on each count.
Dill waived his right to a probable cause hearing and Judge Kelly Luther then set Dill's arraignment for April 20. Luther said the Calhoun County Grand Jury had convened this week and could hear the evidence and return an indictment this month. That could see the case presented in Calhoun County Circuit Court in November.
Luther said Dill is to have no contact with the alleged victim, the alleged victim's family or any student at Vardaman High School.
Dill's attorney Marty Haug, of Starkville, would not comment on why the decision was made to waive the probable cause hearing allowed teachers and law enforcement, when allegations of a crime are leveled at them.
“We do anticipate a not guilty plea,” said Haug. “I will not comment on details of the case.”
Calhoun County Sheriff Greg Pollan said the incident allegedly occurred March 16 on school grounds. He said the incident was reported to an assistant teacher, who told school personnel, who contacted law enforcement.
Pollan said he did not know why the lag in reporting the incident to authorities, and it was only after the victim came forward that he began his investigation on April 2.
“Our investigation is continuing and these are very serious charges,” said Pollan. “Anytime a person of authority has these kind of allegations brought up it upsets the community and there is a lot of speculation.
“It will now move through the system,” he added. “Like I said, our investigation is continuing and we don't know if there are other victims out there. We are asking anyone with information about this case or possibly another incident to contact our office immediately.”
Calhoun County Prosecuting Attorney Tina Scott would also not comment on details of the case.
“These cases are very sensitive and we need to respect the rights of the victim and understand the Constitution also protects the person charged,” said Scott. “We are seeking to minimize the impact on the victim and don't want to stir up the community.
“There are no winners in cases like this,” she said. “We will present this case, like all cases we bring before this court, in a just and right manner.”