ABERDEEN – Former Smithville coach Dwight Bowling will get a “probable cause” hearing Wednesday in Monroe County under a nine-year-old law that protects teachers from frivolous complaints.
Bowling is expected to face state charges relating to federal accusations that he tried to keep a witness from talking to authorities about alleged sexual contact between the two of them, and also that he repeatedly took a minor to Alabama to have sex with him.
A federal hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the U.S. District Courthouse, and at 2 p.m. a state hearing is set at the Monroe County Courthouse, both in Aberdeen.
Bowling, who coached football for 28 years at Smithville, was arrested Friday on his way home from his Sulligent, Ala., high school team’s victory. He resides in Itawamba County but is being held in the Monroe County Jail.
Wednesday’s hearings may present opportunities for Bowling’s attorney, Christi R. McCoy of Oxford, to ask for bail.
Friday, Magistrate S. Allen Alexander signed off on Bowling’s arrest on a sworn federal complaint by Monroe County Chief Deputy Brent Swan, who investigated allegations against the longtime coach.
Swan claims the accusations stem from contacts going back at least to 2004.
Late Monday, after meeting with Bowling, McCoy described him as “confused, shocked and bewildered by the accusations” against him.
Tuesday, District Attorney John Young said the state hearing will seek to determine if there’s enough reason to suspect that a crime has been committed by Bowling.
He declined to talk about the specifics of the charges.
Young said that when he’s ready with the case against Bowling, it will go to a grand jury, which makes decisions about whether to issue indictments or not.
Itawamba County’s next grand jury meets in October, and Monroe County’s convenes in November.
What’s unique about the process to file state charges against Bowling is a 2001 law that requires a probable cause hearing in front of a judge before an arrest can be made on a public school teacher, a jail officer or counselors at adolescent offender programs.
“Somebody just can’t go and charge a teacher with a crime,” the district attorney noted. “It’s for a judge to determine the merits before a warrant can be issued.”
The only exception, the law states, is if a circuit judge believes there’s significant risk that the accused person will leave the court’s jurisdiction or poses a safety threat.
Bowling retired from Smithville five years ago, then took the Sulligent coaching job. Lamar County Schools Superintendent Jeff Newman said Bowling has been put on administrative leave.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch for coverage at NEMS360.com today of the hearing.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal