published Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Whitwell man facing battery, rape charges

A Whitwell, Tenn., man has been arrested by Marion County authorities on sexual battery and rape charges in connection with an encounter with a 16-year-old girl, investigators said.

Christopher Conner, 33, of Whitwell, is charged with sexual battery by an authority figure and statutory rape by an authority figure, Marion County Sheriff's Office Detective Beth Schindel said Wednesday. He is being held on $150,000 bond at the Marion County Jail.

Schindel said the investigation began July 18 after the teen reported she "had been raped in the parking lot" of Whitwell High School, but she said investigators learned the girl's story was not entirely accurate.

The girl was re-interviewed last Friday, and she said the incident happened with Conner at his home in Whitwell, Schindel said. Video surveillance from the school confirmed nothing had happened on school grounds, Schindel said.

Now investigators are looking into phone texting that is said to have taken place between Conner and the girl over as long as 12 months, the detective said.

Authorities ask anyone with information about this case or any similar activities to contact the Marion County Sheriff's Office at 423-942-2525.

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