Crimetracker: Former Cocke Co. teacher faces sexual battery charge

By: Hilary Magacs Email
By: Hilary Magacs Email

NEWPORT, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Dallas Southerland started teaching agricultural studies at Cocke County High School in 2001. But last February, a teenager filed a complaint. The school system suspended Southerland without pay and deputies began investigating. They arrested him at his home in Morristown on Monday after a grand jury indicted him on one count of sexual battery by an authority figure.

"He's supposed to be a role model - not someone that's going to touch them and hurt them," said Allison Hild, who lives in Cocke County.

Paperwork shows the incident happened between May of 2012 and February 2013 with a child at least 13 years old, but younger than 18. According to the indictment, Southerland used his position of power or authority to accomplish the sexual contact.

Even though Southerland has resigned, Hild said the situation makes her worry about her nieces and nephews:

"If we can't trust our teachers, who can we trust?" said Hild.

Randy Forbes is a youth minister whose son is a freshman at the high school.

"All of us want the same thing for our children - to be protected. Anytime something like this happens,even if it's not your child, you still have a heartfelt concern for others and their welfare and their well-being," said Forbes.

He said the person who complained is brave and made the right decision.

"They need to be taught at home and as well at the school that if anything like this was ever to happen, they have someone to go to without any fear of retribution or anything like that," said Forbes.

Southerland posted his $15,000 bond on Tuesday. His next court date is March 6.

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