The Daily Citizen, Dalton, Ga.
An investigation that resulted in the Wednesday arrest of a Murray County Schools administrator for child molestation and statutory rape began on Nov. 9 when Sheriff Jimmy Davenport was alerted to a Halloween party that reportedly involved the administrator and several minors.
Rachelle Louise Terry, Murray County Schools’ director of federal programs, 43, of 5714 Old CCC Camp Road in Chatsworth, was charged with two counts of child molestation and felony statutory rape following an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). She is accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. She was still in jail as of late Thursday afternoon.
In a press release, the GBI said it was brought in to investigate on Nov. 23 after Terry was arrested for “furnishing alcohol to minors during a Halloween party earlier this year.”
According to Murray County jail reports, Terry turned herself in on Nov. 22 for five counts of furnishing/purchasing of alcoholic beverages by persons below legal age and five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Davenport said he was contacted by Murray County Schools Superintendent Steve Loughridge about the party.
“I believe there had been a parental complaint,” Davenport said.
Davenport said he asked the Conasauga District Attorney’s Office to handle the investigation shortly after being alerted about the party because of potential conflicts of interest.
“We provide SROs (school resource officers) to the school system, so to avoid any perception of a conflict we asked them to handle this,” Davenport said.
Davenport declined to answer further questions because the investigation is ongoing. Loughridge did not immediately respond to email questions Thursday afternoon.
District Attorney Bert Poston confirmed his office handled the investigation of the party.
” Sheriff Davenport asked me to take the lead on that so my investigator in Murray County conducted that investigation and took those charges,” he said. “The GBI will not come in to investigate misdemeanor charges under those circumstances, so we agreed to take a look at it after the initial complaint came in.”
Poston declined to answer further questions because the investigation is ongoing.
According to the GBI press release, the district attorney’s “investigation revealed the sexual relationship and they requested the GBI to investigate.”
“(Terry) was placed on administrative leave with pay, upon return from the Thanksgiving break, and prior to her Wednesday night arrest,” said Derichia Lynch, communications coordinator for Murray County Schools. “Because she is under contract, her leave must be with pay until a hearing can be conducted.”
Lynch said Terry is paid $110,000 a year. She has been with Murray County Schools “approximately 22 years.”
“This is an ongoing investigation and personnel matter and as such we cannot offer further comment at this time,” said Lynch.
Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is encouraged to contact the GBI Calhoun Field Office at (706) 624-1424. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling 800-597-TIPS (8477), at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online or through the See Something, Send Something mobile app.
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