published Friday, December 14th, 2012

Lakeview Middle School band director charged in child sex case

On his Facebook page, Thomas Blevins describes himself as the band director at Lakeview Middle School, a laid-back guy who's crazy about his wife and their two young children.

On Thursday, an unemployed Blevins was arrested in Dunlap, Tenn., and taken to jail in Catoosa County, Ga. -- where Lakeview Middle is located -- on charges of child molestation and false imprisonment.

The charges stem from an incident that allegedly took place two years ago when a female student who's now in high school returned to Blevins' class after the school day ended, according to a school district news release.

The student was 14 at the time, according to a news release from Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers.

Officials at the school district and sheriff's office declined to comment beyond their news releases.

The victim, who was not a Lakeview Middle School student at the time of the incident, reported on Dec. 5 -- the day after Blevins resigned his job -- that Blevins had molested her two years ago.

The school system says it immediately reported the allegation to the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Family and Children's Services. That sparked a monthlong investigation by the sheriff's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation leading to the arrest.

"I am outraged by Mr. Blevins' alleged behavior," Lakeview Middle School Principal Steve McClure stated in the release. "I would like to address all of our students. I understand that it takes tremendous courage to report incidents of this nature. I want you to know that there are counselors, teachers, principals and a nurse in our school to support you. I plead with you to report inappropriate behavior to an adult in our school or your parents."

The school system also investigated a complaint by female students against Blevins in January 2011, but that complaint couldn't be confirmed by other students or another instructor in class, according to the school district news release.

"The girls who made the report have remained in the band program at LMS without reporting additional concerns," the news release said.

Blevins had his first appearance Thursday afternoon before Catoosa County Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr. No bond was set.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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