Former Habersham Ninth Grade Academy teacher remains jailed on $71K bond | #teacher | #children | #kids

It’s been five days since deputies arrested a former Habersham County Ninth Grade Academy teacher for allegedly having sex with a student. Leslie Terrell’s arrest sent shockwaves through the community. As of Tuesday afternoon, the once highly-regarded educator remained in the county jail on a $71,400 bond.

Terrell turned herself in to authorities on Friday, March 26, after they issued arrest warrants for her on ten counts, including statutory rape, child molestation, sexual assault, and enticing a child for indecent purposes. She resigned from her job as a ninth-grade Special Education teacher on March 8, after the school system launched an ethics probe into allegations that she was inappropriately texting a student.

Eleven days later, the school system turned her case over to law enforcement. According to the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office, their investigation uncovered that “at some point during the ethics investigation or following her resignation” Terrell allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with the student.

Shock and dismay

Terrell’s arrest has been difficult for many to reconcile. She was one of the driving forces behind last summer’s peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Clarkesville. At the time, she was still a teacher who spoke passionately about the need for anti-bullying measures in school. She also spoke openly against systemic racism and her support for social justice.

“From the time of the election I’ve grieved, grieved the loss of role models,” she told Now Habersham during the protest, “people that taught me Sunday School and I just thought the world of, have said things that I’ll never see or unhear.”

Former HNGA Special Education teacher Leslie Terrell spoke with Now Habersham following the peaceful protest she helped organize in Clarkesville on June 6, 2020.

Now, many in the community echo similar sentiments in light of her arrest.

When the news broke that Terrell was charged with alleged sex crimes against a student, people in the community expressed shock and outrage. Some, including parents of former students, voiced sadness and disbelief.

“This makes no sense, I’ve known her forever!” wrote Amanda Jones on Now Habersham’s Facebook page.

NiNa Ross called Terrell a “great teacher” and said she helped her kids “get through some difficult times.”

As the community grapples with their perceptions of the accused, Terrell sits in a jail cell less than a mile from the gazebo where she led the local call for social justice.

In addition to the sex crime charges against her, the 34-year-old faces two other felony counts for alleged witness tampering and making false statements to investigators. She also faces four misdemeanors including furnishing and distributing obscene material to a minor, obstructing or hindering law enforcement, and interference with custody.

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