Teacher accused of having sex with studentPublished 5:14pm Friday, November 8, 2013
VINA – A physical education teacher at Vina High School was arrested on Friday after allegations surfaced that he had been having a sexual relationship with one of his students.
Sonny Dewaine Tibbs, 35, 525 Wakefield St., Hamilton, was arrested and charged with three counts of being a school employee engaging in a sexual act with a student under the age of 19, which is a Class B felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison if convicted.
According to Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver, Tibbs is accused of being sexually involved with a 17-year-old Vina High School senior.
The relationship has allegedly been going on for six weeks.
Oliver said the sheriff’s office was made aware of the allegations on Thursday after being contacted by the girl’s family.
Oliver said investigators questioned the 17-year-old girl on Friday before picking Tibbs up at his residence in Hamilton.
Investigators said Tibbs admitted to the relationship during questioning.
Oliver said the investigation revealed that Tibbs and the female student had kissed and sent text messages to one another while on school property, but no sexual activity had taken place on school grounds.
According to school officials, Tibbs has been employed as the P.E. teacher at Vina for several years.
Tibbs is also listed as a local amateur wrestler who goes by the name Ninja Assassin.
“As far as the school board is concerned, no action has been taken at this time,” Franklin County Schools Superintendent Gary Williams said.
“We will investigate the situation and then go from there.”
Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said that 16 is the age of consent under Alabama law, but a bill sponsored by Rep. Demetrius Newton (D-Birmingham) and signed into law by Gov. Bob Riley in 2010 made it a felony for a teacher to have a sexual relationship with a student under the age of 19.
“Based on the position of trust that teachers have with the students they teach, the legislators obviously felt that the age should be raised to illustrate the point that a sexual relationship between a teacher and a student can have serious consequences,” Rushing said.
“By making the act a Class B felony, legislators tried to make it clear to teachers that entering into a sexual affair can cause many problems for not only the teacher and the student, but other students as well. The trust and respect teachers need to have in a classroom setting is lost at that point.”
Tibbs is currently in custody at the Franklin County Jail on a $30,000 bond.