A cheerleading coach from Ringgold, Georgia, has been arrested on charges of child molestation.
James Everett Sisson, 49, was arrested in Catoosa County on Monday on suspicion of child molestation, failure to appear and criminal attempt to commit a felony, according to police records.
Sisson was employed at the time of his arrest by Culprit Athletics, a Ringgold-based performance training school with a focus on cheerleading, gymnastics and fitness, and he coached for the Heritage Middle School cheerleading team through his work there, according to owner Austin Culp. Culp told the Times Free Press that he fired Sisson was fired as soon as he heard the news of his arrest.
Catoosa County Public Schools Communication Director Marissa Brower confirmed that Heritage Middle School cheerleaders did participate in training through Culprit Athletics in a statement to the Times Free Press on Tuesday.
“This training was funded and paid to Culprit Athletics by cheerleading parents. Parents and/or HMS cheerleading coaches attended all team practices,” she said. “Culprit Athletics informed Heritage Middle School today that an individual, who had coached HMS cheerleaders, was arrested. The school will no longer participate in training through Culprit Athletics.”
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Culp said Sisson would never work at the gym again either.
“He has been terminated from here and will never coach again. He was one of my friends and had been coaching with us for a year but that doesn’t matter now. We are very disappointed in this dark side of him and will make sure that a coach like this never makes it onto the floor again,” he said. “To get into this work, you have to love kids. We all love the ones we work with and hate that this happened. We are going to take every step to make sure it never does again.”
Culp said that he had a background check done on Sisson before hiring him, as he has done with every staff member, and even called previous gyms where he had worked before to see how he performed while there.
“I called every gym he’d worked at previously and asked what he was like. I asked point blank if I should be concerned and everyone said no and that nothing had ever happened, so we moved forward from there,” Culp said.
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During his time working at Culprit Athletics, Culp said Sisson would occasionally conduct lessons without parents being present, which is not typical. Each time, disciplinary action was taken.
“That only happened once or twice and we took disciplinary action when it did. It wasn’t something we let go,” Culp said. “We took every step we could have to prevent this.”
Going forward, Culp said he and the rest of the staff at the gym are planning to double down on safety measures. His goal, he said, is to protect every child that walks through the doors.
“Jimmy is my friend. Orchestrating his arrest was one of the most gut-wrenching decisions I have made, but I want him to be an example to anyone in our industry who thinks this behavior is okay,” Culp said. “It’s not, and I will not push it under the rug. I want any coach with illicit behavior to know they will never have a chance to coach with us. A big thank you to law enforcement who acted so quickly.”
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According to the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office website, Sisson was booked into the county jail on Monday.
In a press release published Tuesday afternoon, Catoosa County spokesperson John Pless said law enforcement acted on a tip when they arrested Sisson. While investigating the tip, he said they found evidence alleging he had inappropriate contact with an underage girl while working as a coach at Culprit Athletics. Sission is known to work with young students to coach them with cheerleading and tumbling exercise skills.
Sisson remains in the Catoosa County Jail pending a preliminary hearing.
“We encourage anyone with information that could help our investigation to contact Detective Clay Thompson at (706) 935-2424, extension 1020,” Sheriff Gary Sisk said. “Mr. Sisson is known to have worked at Culprit Athletics and Hot Shots, previously known as Crush. He is not an employee of Catoosa County Public Schools.”
Contact Kelcey Caulder at email@example.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.