Teacher resigns in midst of sex charge investigation
by Emily McLain
Jan 16, 2014 | 3870 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rodricus Arlester Thomas
Rodricus Arlester Thomas
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SYLACAUGA – The Board of Education unanimously approved the resignation of middle school teacher Rodricus Thomas at an emergency called meeting Thursday morning.

The resignation comes in the midst of a police investigation centering on Thomas, 31, who was recently charged with two counts of rape in the second degree and two counts of a school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19 years.

Superintendent Dr. Todd Freeman said he received Thomas’ resignation letter Jan. 15, at which time the emergency board meeting was scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

There was no discussion on the matter during the meeting, and the resignation was approved 5-0, with Steve Marlowe making the motion to approve and Melissa Garris offering a second. No other action was taken at the meeting.

Thomas was a seventh- and eighth-grade boys’ physical education teacher at Nichols-Lawson Middle School and also coached middle school boys’ basketball and football. He had been on paid administrative leave since his initial arrest Dec. 29.

The decision on whether to fill Thomas’ position has not yet been made, Freeman said.

“At this point, (Nichols-Lawson principal Debbie Barnett) and I will have a conversation about what to do for the remainder of the year, and we’ll talk about next year,” he said. “What I can tell you for sure is that we will have the support and the staff we need to make sure we take care of all the programs at the middle school.”

Thomas was first arrested on one count each of the aforementioned charges. Bond was set at $40,000, and he was held at Talladega County Jail until he was released on bond. Thomas was arrested a second time Jan. 7 and charged with an additional count of each charge. His bond was set at $100,000, and he bonded out the day of his arrest, according to jail personnel.

Thomas had worked at Nichols-Lawson Middle School since 2008. He graduated from Sylacauga High School in 2000 and from Jacksonville State University in 2006.

Police Chief Chris Carden said Thursday that there are no new charges or arrests in the case, but the investigation is ongoing.

According to court records, Thomas has an appearance Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. before Talladega County District Court Judge Ryan Rumsey.

According to the Code of Alabama Section 13A-6-62, rape in the second degree occurs when a person 16 years or older engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex less than 16 and more than 12 years old, provided the actor is at least two years older than the member of the opposite sex, or when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally defective.

A person commits the crime of a school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19 years if he or she is a school employee and engages in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student, regardless of whether the student is male or female, states Section 13A-6-81 of state code. Consent is not a defense to a charge under this section.

Both charges are Class B felonies, each carrying a sentence of 2-20 year in prison, if convicted.

Information about a crime can be reported to Sylacauga Police Department Investigations at 256-401-2464 or report anonymously at 256-249-4716.

Contact Emily McLain at eadams@dailyhome.com.