UPDATE: $15K bond set for sub-teacher charged with sexual battery

By PATSY R. BRUMFIELD/Daily Journal

10:15 A.M.
TUPELO – Judge Court Judge Sadie Holland set a $15,000 bond for a Lee County substitute teacher accused of two counts of sexual battery.
Blake Whitt, 24, appeared before her today with his attorney, Kent Smith.
A condition of his bond was that he have no contact with the 15-year-old he allegedly had a relationship or with her family or third parties associated with her.
Paul Howell, District Attorney’s Office investigator, said these charges and others will go to a March grand jury to consider an indictment.
Whitt, a small man with dark hair and olive skin, answered Holland’s questions and stated he understood about the no-contact provision.
His parents sat on the front row of the Lee Justice Center Courtroom, and his mother wept as a deputy put him in handcuffs and led him away.
9:00 A.M.
TUPELO – Authorities expect a Lee County substitute teacher to turn himself in today and waive a hearing on whether he should be charged with sex crimes.
Matthew Blake Whitt, about 24, reportedly will appear in circuit court about 10 a.m. for his arrest by sheriff’s deputies.
A circuit judge was expected to set his bail before he is taken to the Lee County Jail for booking.
Whitt reportedly waived his right to a probable cause hearing, which state law requires if the person is a teacher, jailer or law enforcement officer.
At such a hearing, prosecutors likely would lay out a preliminary case against Whitt. He avoids the release of those accusations and information by moving directly to an arrest.
• Come back for updates from the hearing. Also watch for Twitter posts @DJournalnow and Patsy’s posts @realnewsqueen.
• • •
TUPELO – Lee County School System substitute teacher Matthew Blake Whitt faces criminal charges surrounding an alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year-old female student.
Whitt, reportedly about 24, either must waive his right to a probable cause hearing or submit to a circuit court hearing to determine if sufficient evidence exists to arrest him.
Mississippi law requires such a hearing before authorities can charge a teacher, jailer or law enforcement officer with any offense allegedly committed while he or she is on the job.
The Lee County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed a petition last week asking for the hearing.
In that petition, the hearing is requested to consider whether Whitt should be charged with statutory rape, sexual battery or any other crimes, including transmitting lewd and pornographic images to a student.
The petition, on file with the Lee County Circuit Court, claims that certain alleged “sexual acts” occurred during the current school year while Whitt was teaching at a Mooreville school.
Whitt is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
Jimmy Weeks, superintendent of the Lee County School District, said Tuesday that Whitt is an approved substitute teacher and worked in that capacity about five times this year at Mooreville High School.
“I think that’s about all I can say at this point,” Weeks added.
Little other information about Whitt is available, although his Facebook page under the name Blake Whitt states he works at Mooreville High School and attended Blue Mountain College.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com