Marion piano teacher accused of fondling 8-year-old girl

Marion piano teacher accused of fondling 8-year-old girl

MARION, SC (WMBF) – A music teacher at Marion Intermediate School and Easterling Primary School in Marion County was arrested and is no longer employed by the district due to allegations that he fondled an 8-year-old female student during a piano lesson, according to Marion police and a letter from the district.

The report stated Ronny Rogers texted his piano student's mother that the 8-year-old girl's lesson from 3 to 4 p.m., Tuesday at Marion Intermediate School did not go well, saying he upset the girl although he didn't mean to do so.

The girl reportedly told her mother over the phone that Rogers put his hands in her pants.

According to the report, Rogers then met with the mother outside of the school and admitted to putting his hand in her pants, but said he did not mean to hurt her.

The mother and victim then went to the police department.

Rogers was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and third-degree attempted criminal sexual conduct. Bond was denied at a hearing on Thursday.

Marion Police Chief Dewayne Tennie said Rogers is under investigation, and they are looking to see if any more victims could be involved.

Deborah Wimberly, a coordinator of public relations with the district, provided the following statement:

Marion County School District is aware that an inappropriate situation may have occurred between an Easterling Primary / Marion Intermediate School teacher and a student. This incident is currently under police investigation. The teacher is no longer actively employed with the district and the district has received the teacher's resignation. Any further questions should be addressed to the Marion County Police Department.

Wimberly said Rogers started working with the school district in 2007.

WMBF News has obtained a copy of a letter sent to parents of students in the Marion County School District on May 18, which stated:

"On May 17, 2016, The Marion County School District became aware of allegations that a District music teacher employed at Easterling Primary School and Marion Intermediate School may have engaged in inappropriate behavior with a student after school hours.

"In light of this information, the music teacher is no longer actively employed by the district, and the matter has been turned over to law enforcement. Due to the sensitivity of this situation, we cannot provide further details; nevertheless, we assure you that school and district administrators are committed to cooperating with and assisting authorities in their investigation.

"Your child's well-being is important to the District. In that regard, we ask that you make us aware of any concerns that you or your child may have."

Wimberly sent WMBF News the written policy as it pertains to private lessons:

"A teacher may enter into an agreement with parents/legal guardians for tutoring students for a fee. This practice must be limited to students other than those for whom the teacher is currently exercising teaching, administrative or supervisory responsibility. These restrictions are to assure all students reasonable assistance without charge from their own teachers, as well as to avoid placing a teacher in a position where he/she may have a conflict of interest.         

A teacher may not tutor any student for pay during his/her regular working hours or on school premises.      

These agreements are between the parents/legal guardians and the teachers and the district assumes no responsibility for monitoring these activities."   

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division did not have any previous arrests or charges on file for Rogers.

Kelly Clark, whose two daughters had Rogers as their music teacher, said she had trusted him and thought he was a nice teacher.

"I didn't ever see anything weird about him," she said.

Clark added she was shocked when she received the letter from the school district.

"It was very, very, very hard to hear, because your kids are supposed to be protected at school," Clark said.

She encourages parents to have on-going conversations with their children, so they feel comfortable coming forward if something ever does happen to them.

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