Ex-Carter Co. teacher pleads guilty to statutory rape of 16-year-old former student

John Thompson • Dec 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A former teacher in the Carter County School Department pleaded guilty Thursday on one count of aggravated statutory rape and two counts solicitation of a minor.

Kelly Smith, 31, was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old former student. He is scheduled for sentencing before Judge Robert Cupp on Feb. 18.

The charge stems from a complaint filed by the mother of the girl. She told Lt. Randy Bowers of the Carter County Sheriff's Department that she had discovered her daughter had sexual relations with her former elementary school teacher.

Bowers interviewed the girl and learned she had gone to Smith's home in Dec. 2012. She said Smith began communicating with her via Facebook when she was in the sixth grade at Hampton Elementary School. At the time, Smith was teaching at the school.

In an attempt to check the girl's story, Bowers had asked her to describe Smith's living room furnishings.

The solicitation charges alleged that Smith used email or Internet services to communicate material containing simulated sexual activity to a minor. He also allegedly attempt to induce a 13-year-old girl to engage in conduct that would have constituted statutory rape if the conduct had been completed.

The sheriff's department reported that at the time of his arrest the investigation had discovered more than 400 texts and some explicit photographs of Smith sent to the girl.

Smith was on unpaid suspension from his teaching job at the time he was arrested. The suspension was a result of a second offense of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident on Feb. 12.

In accepting the guilty pleas, Cupp ordered Smith to register as a sex offender and to have no more contact with the victims in the three cases.

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