Straughn teacher charged [with updates from school officials]

Published 8:10 pm Thursday, March 12, 2015

A 52-year-old Covington County teacher has been charged with two counts of a school employee having sexual contact with a student under the age of 19.


Thomas Edwin Gamble, 52, of Red Level, was charged with the misdemeanors on Thursday.

Sheriff’s investigators received a report of a possible sexual assault through the Covington County DHR office last week. The victim is a Straughn Middle School student. The sheriff’s department notified the board of education, and Gamble was immediately placed on administrative leave during the investigation.

Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver told the Star-News Thursday that he was notified on March 5 of an allegation of inappropriate touching and or grabbing of an SMS student by an employee.

“As soon as this information was received, the appropriate authorities were notified,” Driver said. “While we believe that any person is entitled to the presumption of innocence, we also believe our actions are warranted in this case. We have no tolerance for the type of behavior that is alleged by the victim and will continue to strive to provide a safe learning environment for the students of Covington County Schools.”

Investigators determined that Gamble on at least two occasions had sexual contact with the teen against her will. Gamble allegedly touched and grabbed the victim inappropriately. The alleged incidents occurred in Gamble’s classroom during school hours. The incidents were crimes of opportunity, investigators said, and were limited to inappropriate touching.

Gamble has been a teacher for 10 years, all of which has been at Straughn. He is a special needs teacher who generally works with other teachers in the classroom, but also reads and proctors exams and make-up work with middle schoolers.

The charges against Gamble are Class A misdemeanors. Bond was set at $30,000. Each charge is punishable by up to one year in jail. If convicted, Gamble would be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

“Cases of this types are always difficult for everyone involved,” said Covington County Sheriff’s Investigator Wesley Snodgrass. “Mr. Gamble’s misconduct is disturbing and unacceptable. The sheriff’s office has worked diligently along with DHR, the Children’s Advocacy Center and the district attorney’s office to seek the truth and to hold Mr. Gamble accountable for his actions.”

Driver said all evidence and information pertaining to the case has been turned over to the sheriff’s office.

“Covington County Schools is cooperating with all agencies involved in this investigation and will continue to provide information and assistance as requested by all agencies involved,” he said.