Teacher accused of sex abuse involving first-grade students

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A teacher at an elementary school in Tennessee has been indicted and arrested on allegations of sexual abuse involving multiple students in the first grade, authorities said.

The teacher at Wallace A. Smith Elementary School in Ooltewah was jailed after being indicted Monday by a grand jury, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Detectives began investigating this month after receiving an allegation of inappropriate behavior and found “several children were identified as potential victims,” Tuesday’s statement said.

The grand jury handed down a multiple count indictment, but it was filed under seal due to the confidential nature of the case, the sheriff said. The teacher is being held at the Hamilton County jail.

The teacher was suspended from his job without pay two weeks ago when administrators were informed of the investigation, news outlets reported, citing a statement from Hamilton County Schools. Last week, district leaders were told that there was probable cause to believe that Sanders had sexually abused first-grade students, the statement said.

“These allegations are devastating. We are heartbroken at the thought that any school system employee would harm a child,” the school district statement said. Counselors will be made available to any students, families and faculty members who need support, the statement said.

No further information was being released, but officials said the investigation is ongoing and urged anyone with information about the case to come forward.

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