Former Ripley High School teacher charged with sexual battery

By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel

RIPLEY – Former Ripley High School teacher Melissa Mathis is free on $5,000 bond after being charged with two counts of sexual battery Thursday afternoon, according to Tippah County Jail records.

Dist. Attorney Ben Creekmore said earlier this week the investigation involves allegations of an improper relationship between Mrs. Mathis and a student. He declined to discuss the allegations.

Sexual battery – a broad statute — is basically defined as sexual activity between anyone under the age of 18 and someone in a position of trust over that person.

Mrs. Mathis, 37, listed as 5’8” and 145 lbs., was booked into the jail about 12:40 p.m. Thursday and released shortly afterward on a property bond, according to jail records.

The Tippah County Sheriff’s Department is carrying out the investigation. Sheriff Karl Gaillard was unavailable for comment Thursday afternoon. Other sources said a press conference would be held in the near future to provide further details of the case.

The South Tippah School Board voted 5-0 to accept the resignation of Mrs. Mathis during a special meeting Friday afternoon, Superintendent Frank Campbell said Monday afternoon.

The resignation, effective immediately, was the only business transacted during the meeting, which lasted about 10 minutes. Mrs. Mathis resigned by letter.

Arrangements are being made for other teachers to handle Mrs. Mathis’ classes.

Superintendent Frank Campbell declined further comment on the resignation.

The school board held its January meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10. The matter involving Mrs. Mathis was not publicly discussed.

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