Crimetracker: Families react to Teaching Assistant's sex crimes arrest

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A truck driver said it's not something he wanted to see while driving down I-40 last month. He passed Shelley Trigg Hedgepeth, a teaching assistant at Farragut Intermediate School, and said Hedgepeth was wearing a dark colored rob, driving up to car and visibly masturbating. When officers pulled him over, they found binoculars, napkins and lotion near the driver's seat.

"I wouldn't say that's appropriate behavior anywhere. When you're driving down the interstate with vehicles around you and you're behind a two ton vehicle yourself one handed - yeah, I would say that's definitely not appropriate behavior. Nor normal behavior," said Madlyn Mottern, who is shocked by what happened.

Police charged Hedgepeth with indecent exposure in July. When Knox County Schools found out last Friday, they fired him.

"He should have been let go. I'm not comfortable with somebody exposing themselves like that and then teaching my children. I'm not comfortable with that at all," said Suzanne Summerville, a Farragut Intermediate parent.

"When you are around children 24/7, 365 you're held to a higher standard. You have to behave very appropriately all the time," said Jennifer Atchley, a Farragut Intermediate parent.

This isn't the first time Hedgepeth has been in trouble for indecent exposure. According to the police report, he was arrested for the very same thing in 2007 and in 1993. Those charges were dismissed.

"It shows a pattern of repetitive behavior. And I would say teaching is not really the atmosphere he needs to be in now. Probably more getting help more," said Mottern.

Hedgepeth was with Knox County Schools for more than 15 years, so the school system hired him after his 1993 indecent exposure charge. He was still employed during the 2007 charge. Again, both of those charges were dismissed.

As for the district's policy, the school system said no one can be hired without fully disclosing any prior criminal record or whose background check indicated he or she may be a safety risk.

Knox County Schools said the TBI conducted a background check on Hedgepeth in 1998 and he was cleared for employment. The school system said at the time he applied, people only had to report criminal convictions. More current versions of employment applications also require them to list criminal charges and arrests.

Hedgepeth is due in court October 1.

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