By Nathan Baker
Police say a 30-year-old teacher at Hampton Elementary School sent more than 400 sexually explicit messages and photographs in one month to one of his 13-year-old students.
Kelly Andrae Smith was charged Friday with solicitation of a person under 18 years of age and solicitation of a minor to observe sexual conduct after investigators said they discovered text and Facebook messages sent to the young girl he first met in his classroom.
“This is one of the most disturbing cases of this type that I have seen,” Carter County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Lt. Mike Little said, noting that Smith sent messages to the victim as late as Thursday, before he was located by officers and interviewed.
Sheriff Chris Mathes said the victim’s mother discovered the explicit messages on her daughter’s phone and immediately reported them to police.
“It was a case of good parenting,” he said. “I encourage all parents to look at their kids’ cellphones. In this case, the parent checking the phone is what brought this to light. If she hadn’t been doing that, who knows what would have happened or where it may have led?”
Before this arrest, Smith was on unpaid suspension from his job teaching sixth-grade social studies stemming from an unrelated arrest by city police in February on second offense DUI charges.
That case is still pending in Carter County General Sessions Court.
Smith was booked on the charges Friday and later released on a $10,000 bond.
He is scheduled to appear in Court on the new felony charges on June 3.
For complete details, read Sunday’s edition of the STAR.