Judge OKs move for arrest on sex-with-minor allegations

By Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal

TUPELO – Orlando R. Anderson, a former Tupelo schools physical education assistant teacher, was accused today of an inappropriate sexual relationship with a teenage student.

Circuit Judge James L. Roberts Jr. granted prosecutors approval to seek his arrest after what’s called a “probable cause” hearing in the circuit court of Lee County. The hearing was set to begin at 1:30 p.m.

County Attorney James Moore presented his case to Roberts, saying Anderson maintained a sexual relationship with the minor while he worked for the schools.

Kay Bishop, speaking for Tupelo Public School District, said Anderson is not a current employee. It’s believed he worked at Pierce Street Elementary School until recently.

The female minor in question is believed to attend the middle or high school.

He is charged with sexual battery.

State law requires a the 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.

• For more, read Friday’s Daily Journal or come back to NEMS360.com.

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Below is a running account of today’s hearing. (Please forgive the typos and other glitches likely to occur as I type as fast as I can.)

2:00 – Prosecutors James Moore and Paul Gault, assistant DA, enter courtroom. Defendant enters with someone who looks like his attorney. (Not sure what his name is yet.) Several people in audience, some on defense side, two on other side.

JUDGE ROBERTS – Set for probable cause hearing. Mr. Anderson here with attorney John Weddle. James Moore and Paul Gault represent state. Cautioned media (me) about not publishing name of alleged victim.

If any witnesses in courtroom, bailiff please show them to a witness room.

Opening statements?

MOORE – Intend to charge defendant with statutory rape and statutory battery. In position of trust as physical ed teacher with Tupelo schools he engaged in sex from time summer vacation began until present with a 14-year-old. Prefer to refer to female as “the minor.” (Roberts, Weddle – OK)

WEDDLE – Nothing as far as opening.

MOORE – Calls Detective Lynette Sandlin, Tupelo Police.

SANDLY – Contact with Anderson, identifies him. We had information from 14-year old that sexual assault had occurred. Met with juvenile. (reads date of birth) Resides in Lee County. Spoke with Anderson, first time Aug. 24. Says he gave her a statement.

(Reads statement, signed in her presence. Waiver of Miranda rights.) My name is Anderson, assistant teacher at Pierce Street, attended a camp in June. I met the minor at camp. Sex at least two times at school. Picked her up at school and had sex at my aunt’s house. Sex at least four times, without a condom, but she kept wanted to. She told me she was 14, more mature. Should not have let my guard down. I know this was wrong.

He is 25. At summer camp, told by victim and him was “Camp Possibility” for students to learn their goals in life, possibilities for future. He was camp instructor.

WEDDLE – Briefly, your honor.

SANDLIN – (Referring to statement. WRitten by him or someone else?) He came to office voluntarily. He signed waiver, then as he gave me the statement I typed it. Allowed him to read it, as true and correct, and he signed it. Given Aug. 24, 2011. (Others?) Um, a written letter was dropped off at our office Aug. 25. Envelope has Dianne Brown and Orlando Anderson’s name on it. Letter has his name at top.

(Paraphrased from Weddle’s questions.) During camp, he was acting in teacher capacity. Victim stated he was a P.E. teacher. She was a student, school told me. Not mandatory work, optional camp. Statement Aug. 24 only statement she took. Tape recorded, with audio.

(Weddle confers with client). (Asks her if it was voluntary? That he came voluntarily? But she called him and said we need to talk to you?) I called Mr. Anderson about report with his name and asked if he would come to office and speak with me. Asked him if he could come and speak to me. He did ask what it was about. I informed him that I didn’t speak openly about cases on the phone. Appointment set for 3 p.m. but he called back to say within 20 mins, said he could come then.

(Advised him of recording?) No, sir. (Sign statement same time as waiver?) No, signed waiver before, then signed statement after. Gave him the statement and allowed him to read it. Didn’t read it to him.

MOORE – (Re-direct) Sandlin, letter delivered, what was return address?

SANDLIN – No return address, there is one on there. At top name says Dianne Brown, his mom, phone number under it. No address.

ROBERTS – Witness excused.

MOORE – We rest.

WEDDLE – No witnesses. Defendant rests.

MOORE – Briefly, submit we have statement from defendant, which hasn’t rebutted.

WEDDLE – Nothing, your honor.

ROBERTS – Purpose of this hearing is to show that it is more probable than not that a crime occurred and that the defendant more than likely committed it. Credible evidence in this case against him. This is not a trial to determine guilt or innocence, solely whether probable cause. Proof clear that a potential crime has been committed and that Anderson committed that crime. Court finds probable cause exists and suitable documents may be executed to pursue the matter.

MOORE – We’d like to go ahead and charge him, we have documents for warrant for his arrest.

WEDDLE – Familiar with them. Request, this is a hearing not to determine guilt or innocent, only probable cause. Agree circuit court can handle setting of bond, would like to address the court about that.

ROBERTS – All right, we can get to that after we handle the documents. (2:21)

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