The wife of a former assistant football coach at a Tennessee high school has been charged with the statutory rape of a student whose name is on the team’s roster, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Kelsey McCarter, 26, was arrested Thursday, April 21, and on Friday it was announced she faces charges that include six counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, as well as a count of exploiting a minor using electronic means, reports USA Today High School Sports.
The alleged sexual encounters between McCarter and the minor are said to have taken place over an 11-month period, from February 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015, according to the Sentinel. The grand jury presentment notes that at least one instance includes McCarter sharing images of a sexual nature with the high school student.
Knox County District Attorney Charme Allen stated the charges were lodged against McCarter after a broad investigation in collaboration with several other law enforcement agencies, according to WATE.
WBIR reports that both the Child Abuse Unit of the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Family Crisis Unit of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office investigated the matter, according to prosecutors.
McCarter’s husband, Justin McCarter, resigned earlier in 2016 from his assistant coaching position with Knoxville’s South-Doyle High School, the Sentinel reports. He has not been charged in the matter.
According to WBIR, Justin McCarter left his position in February, calling the move a “career change.”
Justin McCarter, South-Doyle Principal Tim Berry, and Assistant Principal Clark Duncan were all investigated to determine “… their conduct in the allegations against Kelsey McCarter and whether they immediately reported child sexual abuse to DCS or law enforcement as required by law,” according to WATE.
Berry and Duncan were both placed on paid suspension from their positions in February, 2016, while authorities investigated whether they failed to perform their duties as mandated by their positions, writes the Sentinel. According to the news media outlet, District Attorney Allen stated in a news release, “After a careful review of the evidence in this case — and after much deliberation — I am not pursuing criminal charges against Tim Berry, Clark Duncan, or Justin McCarter.”
Duncan’s attorney, Jeff Hagood, commented on the decision, telling WATE he anticipates his client will resume “his prior duties,” and that he’s “pleased the investigation is over and it ended the way” he believed it would.
Hagood further told the Sentinel that Duncan “is and has been one of the most respected high school coaches in our state and a leader in our community.”
The Sentinel reports Duncan has been with the school system almost 35 years, and Berry joined Knox County Schools in July, 2011.
Several students attending South-Doyle High School spoke with WVLT, saying they had seen sexual images of McCarter and the minor student. A freshman told the news media outlet that he feels as though the matter has “given a bad look” to the school, as well as the community.
Students also told WVLT they just want things to get “back to normal” at the school and truly miss their principal, “Mr. Berry.” They noted that since he left in February, the school has “been going downhill.”
WATE notes that local residents have also spoken out about Kelsey McCarter’s arrest, saying the allegations are disturbing. A former student of South-Doyle High, Katie Hall, told WATE the following.
“It’s very sad especially thinking I have a four year old daughter so thinking about in her generation when she starts high school. Are your kids going to be safe in school?”
McCarter is currently awaiting arraignment in Knox County Criminal Court, and was released Friday on $30,000 bond, the Sentinel reports.
According to WATE, McCarter could be sentenced anywhere from three to six years in prison for each of the six counts of statutory rape she’s been charged with.
[Image via Lissandra Melo/Shutterstock]