A 23-year-old former Maryville College student was arrested Wednesday in connection with a sexual relationship that he allegedly conducted with an Alcoa High student last year.
Jordan Lorenzo Harris, 23, Circle Drive, Maryville, was charged with statutory rape by an authority figure following a joint investigation by Alcoa and Maryville police departments, according to a media release Thursday. He was free on a $25,000 bond pending a 9 a.m. Sept. 22 hearing in Blount County General Sessions.
Alcoa Director of Schools Brian Bell advised that Harris was a Maryville College student teacher who was assigned last year to Alcoa Middle and Alcoa High. He declined to comment further.
A Maryville College spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that Harris was enrolled in its teacher education program. However, she was unable to comment on whether he was a graduate.
A Maryville College news release published May 18 lists a man with the same name as a 2015 graduate. An Instagram account with the same name lists himself as “23 … Maryville College Alum!”
Harris admits relationship
Harris’ charge stems from an alleged relationship he had last year with a female minor. Police said Harris admitted to the relationship this week. Alcoa and Maryville detectives met Wednesday after receiving a Department of Children’s Services referral concerning child sex abuse.
The detectives later watched a forensic interview, which was conducted at New Hope — Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center, according to an Alcoa police report. The victim, a 16-year-old female, said she had sex with Harris at an apartment on Circle Drive in Maryville.
The investigators then made contact with Harris at his residence Wednesday afternoon, and the former student teacher agreed to speak with them at the Maryville Police Department. After his Miranda rights were explained, Harris agreed to talk, police said, and admitted to having a relationship with the victim, who is now listed as 17 years old.
Harris said he met the victim while teaching a gym class at Alcoa High School last year. She was one of his students.
Harris said the victim had come to his residence at least six times between Sept. 1, 2014, and Oct. 31, 2014. The former student teacher said they had sex in October 2014, which was the last time she was at his apartment. Harris told officers he halted all communication with the girl about a week later, the report said.
After giving police a written statement, Harris was taken to the Blount County Justice Center and booked on the statutory rape charge.
Second in four years
Harris is the second Alcoa High staff member charged with statutory rape in the past four years. Former Alcoa High teacher and softball coach Robert Paul Talley was indicted by a Blount County grand jury in December 2011 on nine sex-related charges involving juvenile girls. The victims were 13 and 17 at the time, and the incidents occurred between 2010 and 2011.
Talley pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, five counts of statutory rape by an authority figure and two counts of solicitation of a minor by an authority figure. Under a plea agreement regarding the sexual battery and statutory rape charges, both Class C felonies, he was sentenced to four years — including 120 days in jail and the rest in a community corrections program — along with a fine of up to $10,000.
Talley was given credit for time served from December 2011 to January 2012 when he was first arrested. He also received credit for 10 days he spent in jail in June 2012, when he violated an order of protection by trying to contact one of the victims.