ELIZABETHTON — A 30-year-old teacher at Hampton Elementary School has been accused of being involved in an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old student.
Kelly Andrae Smith, 309 Daytona Place, was arrested by the Carter County Sheriff’s Department on Friday afternoon on charges of solicitation of a person under 18 years of age and solicitation of a minor to observe sexual conduct.
“This is a very disturbing case,” Lt. Mike Little said following the arrest.
“He was in a trusted position,” Sheriff Chris Mathes said. “We believe at one time the victim was his student and that is how they came into contact.”
Little said the student’s cell phone contained more than 400 texts from Smith and also some explicit photographs of Smith. A departmental press release said “additional items were discovered on the child’s Facebook account that led to further discovery of sexually explicit communications to the student by Smith.”
Little said all of the communications took place during the past month.
“Of all the cases I have worked, this is the most disturbing in terms of communication,” Little said.
Little said he understands that Smith had been a fairly successful teacher at one time.
This is not the first time the teacher has been in trouble recently. According to the sheriff’s department, Smith is on unpaid suspension from his job because of an arrest by the Elizabethton Police Department on Feb. 12 in which he was charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident.
Mathes said the inappropriate relationship was discovered as a result of “good parenting.” The sheriff said the mother of the girl inspected her cell phone monthly and that is how the communications came to light.
Mathes said he encourages all parents to monitor their children’s cell phones. “If she hadn’t been doing that, if this had gone unchecked, there is no telling what might have happened.”
Mathes said when the mother’s findings became known, the investigation became a priority. He said Little and Lt. Randy Bowers did an excellent job in investigating the charges. He said Carter County Director of Schools Kevin Ward and Supervisor Danny McClain were cooperative and maintained close contact with the sherrif’s department during the investigation.
The investigation is continuing. Smith was placed in the Carter County Detention Center with bond set at $10,000.