By Patsy Brumfield
TUPELO – Orlando R. Anderson, a former Tupelo schools physical education assistant teacher, was arrested Thursday on allegations he had sex with a 14-year-old female student.
Anderson, 25, of Tupelo was held on a sexual battery charge and a $25,000 bond. His case will go to the October Lee County grand jury, which meets in a few weeks.
Circuit Judge James L. Roberts Jr. granted prosecutors the OK on Anderson’s arrest after what’s called a “probable cause” hearing in the circuit court of Lee County.
County Attorney James Moore presented the case to Roberts, saying Anderson maintained a sexual relationship with the minor while he worked for the schools.
Kay Bishop, speaking for the Tupelo Public School District, said Anderson is not a current employee. It’s believed he worked at Pierce Street Elementary School until recently.
In a news release issued after the hearing, TPSD said “the employee was terminated” when the district learned about the conduct. No other students were involved, it stated.
Lynette Sandlin, a Tupelo police detective, told the court that Anderson told her he met the 14-year-old at TPSD’s “Camp Possibility” held over the summer at Pierce Street for at-risk students to consider life goals.
She said he admitted to her that he had sex with the girl numerous times, “at least twice” at the school, although he knew it was wrong.
At the hearing, Anderson’s attorney John Weddle of Tupelo urged the court to set a lower bail, saying his client was suspended from his job and will have difficulty making the $25,000 bond.
Anderson responded quietly, “Yes sir,” when Roberts instructed him not to have any contact with the minor.
State law requires a probable cause hearing on allegations against teachers and law enforcement so that the court’s time and defendant’s reputations won’t be jeopardized unnecessarily by frivolous claims against them.
Such a hearing was held last fall before the arrest of former Smithville coach Dwight Bowling, who at that point was accused of sex with minor males. He later pleaded guilty to multiple state and federal charges with a 30-year prison term ahead of him.