Richard Whitehead, a 34 year old teacher at Bainbridge High School has been charged with 7 counts of Sexual Assault.
The victim is a 17 year old student at Bainbridge High School.
Sheriff Wiley Griffin stated adult friends of the victim became concerned when they saw inappropriate text messages that had been sent back and forth between the victim and Mr Whitehead. One of these adults informed a local Judge and a minister about the situation.
Sheriff Griffin stated he was informed, and on Monday, Major Wendell Cofer and Pastor Stephen Webb made contact with the girl's mother. The mother stated she was already suspicious and told the Sheriff's department she wanted charges pursued. She immediately took the girl out of school and to the Sheriff's Department. With the text messaging and emails from home and school computers being evidentiary, Sheriff's asked GBI Special Agent Mike Walsingham to assist.
After a 6 hour investigation on Monday, including an interview with the victim, Sheriff's were ready to move in.
Richard Whitehead exchanged text messages with who he believed to be the victim, but was in fact Deputy Liz Croley. A meeting was set up in their usual place, the Mt Zion Church parking lot on Faceville highway. Mr Whitehead pulled in and was immediately surrounded by GBI Mike Walsingham, Deputies Gale Bowyer and Terry Phillips. He was arrested at gunpoint.
In an interview with Sheriff's and GBI, Whitehead acknowledged marital problems. He stated he knew the sexual acts were wrong but was "blinded by the whole thing". Mr Whitehead also stated the victim was his student last semester and his student this semester for the Quiz Bowl.
There are also rumors at the High School that this was not the first victim of Mr Whitehead. They stated there was talk of another specific girl he was involved with last year.
Georgia Statute 184.108.40.206 states
A probation or parole officer or other custodian or supervisor of another person referred to in this Code section commits sexual assault when he or she engages in sexual contact with another person who is a probationer or parolee under the supervision of said probation or parole officer or who is in the custody of law or who is enrolled in a school or who is detained in or is a patient in a hospital or other institution and such actor has supervisory or disciplinary authority over such other person. A person convicted of sexual assault shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 30 years;
On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Chip Perry set bond for Mr Whitehead at $35,000, $5,000 for each of the 7 counts. If convicted, he could face up to 210 years in prison.
Above from left, Sheriff Wiley Griffin, Judge Chip Perry, Richard Whitehead and Major Wendell Cofer.
Richard Whitehead and his family moved to Bainbridge 6 years ago. His wife is a teacher as well, and he has 3 children. He is shown in our November article with the Bainbridge High School Drama Team and is listed in the Chamber of Commerce 2005-06 Leadership Class Graduates.