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Former baseball coach out of jail, makes court appearance

(WITN)
Published: Jul. 12, 2016 at 3:46 PM EDT
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A former high school coach accused of being sexually involved with a student made a brief court appearance this morning.

Donnell Garris, III was released from the Lenoir County jail Tuesday night. The judge set July 27th as his next court date.

The Lenoir County Sheriff's Office received word Monday afternoon that there was possibly an inappropriate relationship going on with the baseball coach and a student at North Lenoir High School.

Garris resigned as the baseball coach and health and physical education teacher Tuesday amid allegations he performed sex acts with a 16-year-old student on school property.

"We're not able to determine how long it was going on at this point, but we were able to determine that there was a relationship," says Major Ryan Dawson with the sheriff's office. "There was sexual activity and that it had occurred very recently."

Dawson says someone reported to the principal that the coach and the student were seen coming out of a building and it looked to be suspicious in nature.

Garris was brought to the Lenoir County jail and placed under a $100,000 bond.

Dawson says because of the school's immediate response, deputies were able to make a quick arrest. "Because of their quick notification, vital pieces of evidence were able to be recovered and we were able to confront the suspect and interview other witnesses."

Lenoir County Schools released a statement, saying in part, "The school system takes any concerns and complaints regarding the conduct of school system employees seriously and takes appropriate action."

"Just as law enforcement or fire and paramedics, but teachers are included in the fact that they are people parents teach children to trust," Dawson says. "When you're taught and grow up that way, that this is a person I can go to when I need help. This is a person I can go to when something is wrong."

Dawson didn't expand on the nature of the evidence they found, but it was enough to charge the now former-coach with six felony counts of a sex act with a student.

Garris had been employed with the school system since 2006.

The investigation is still open and authorities tell WITN more charges could be brought against Garris. Right now they're working to determine if there are more victims.


Previous Story

A high school baseball coach has been arrested for having sex with a student on school property.

Lenoir County deputies have charged Donell Garris, III with six felony counts of sexual act with a student. Garris is head baseball and soccer coach at North Lenoir High School.

Sheriff Ronnie Ingram tells WITN that the victim is a 16-year-old girl.

Deputies say their investigation began Monday after the school system got a tip about a possible relationship between one of their employees and a student. Major Ryan Dawson says the two were reportedly seen coming out of a building on campus.

The investigation showed the sexual relationship happened during the summer on school property during school activities, according to deputies.

"We want to credit the school with how quickly they notified us because without that I don't know we could've moved this quick," said Major Dawson. "But because of their quick notification, vital pieces of evidence were able to be recovered and we were able to confront the suspect and interview other witnesses."

Garris was jailed on a $100,000 secured bond.

Lenoir County Schools says Garris resigned his position today. He was hired in 2006 and was a health and physical education teacher, in addition to being a coach, according to a statement.

Garris was named baseball coach of the year by the Kinston Free Press for 2016.