By Floyd Ingram
HOUSTON – A Houston teacher's assistant has been charged with sexual battery of a high school student following a probable cause hearing on Wednesday.
George French, 22, , of Houston, and a Houston Middle School teacher's assistant, was brought before Circuit Court Judge Kelly Luther for a probable cause hearing this week to determine if allegations of improper conduct with a student were merited. French also assisted with the school basketball team.
After the hearing, Luther said evidence warranted charges and French could be charged with sexual battery.
“It appears there was some type of inappropriate contact with a high school student and it led to the probable cause hearing and these charges,” said Chickasaw County Sheriff James Meyers. “Judge Luther told (French) to report to the Chickasaw County Jail were he was formally charged, booked and he posted a bond of $20,000.”
Under Mississippi law, school teachers and law enforcement officers working in the scope of their job can’t have charges filed against them until a probable cause hearing has been held. The intent of the law is to keep parents from filing assault charges against a teacher should their child be spanked and to prevent vindictive charges being filed against law enforcement officers making an arrest. The law also covers teachers in the event a student alleges they were sexually assaulted.
Officers continue their investigation into this incident and are asking the community to contact local authorities if they information about other people or incidents related to this case.
Details of the case are not being released at this time and Meyers said French would probably be bound over to the February term of the Chickasaw County Grand Jury.
Superintendent Cook said the district was made aware of the case this week and has worked to help authorities in the investigation.
“The safety and welfare of students and employees is the first priority of Houston School District,” said Cook. “The school did what it had to do in this case and will continue to assist in this investigation.”
Cook said parents who have concerns about this case or any similar situation should contact authorities immediately.
The Chickasaw County Grand Jury is slated to meet in at the Courthouse in Houston Feb. 15-17.
A teacher with the Chickasaw County School District who has also had allegations of sexual misconduct with a student leveled at him is expected to see his case go before the Grand Jury as well.
The District Attorney's Office received information that Houlka Attendance Center Teacher Bradley McDonald allegedly had inappropriate contact with a 15-year-old student on or about Sept. 15, 2015.
McDonald was slated to appear in Chickasaw County Circuit Court before Judge Luther but the probable cause hearing was moved to Ripley at the request of attorneys. McDonald later waived his right to a preliminary hearing and the case moved directly to the Chickasaw County Grand Jury.
McDonald's Bond was set at $5,000.