A former Northview school teacher arrested 17 months ago on sex charges involving a student is scheduled to go on trial next week. Calvin Bell-Tharpe, 31, faces two felony charges School Employee, a felony under an Alabama law passed in 2010 by lawmakers. It makes it illegal, in most cases, for a teacher to have sex with a student even if the student has reached 16, the age of legal consent.
Bell-Tharpe is accused of having sexual relations with a male student, an act police say occurred off-campus. Judicial filings show the alleged offenses occurred in late 2010 though Bell-Tharpe was not arrested until June, 2011. An initial internal investigation, according to school administrators, apparently failed to substantiate a violation of school policy or a criminal act took place.
A Dothan police investigator, testifying during a preliminary hearing following Bell-Tharpe's arrest, claims the teacher took the boy to an apartment belonging to a relative of the teacher. Officer Renya Johnson said the sex acts took place after the two dined together at the apartment and lasted for an undetermined amount of time--possibly as long as an hour.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Shaun McGhee claims his client denies the allegations against him.
Bell-Tharpe, who is now 31-years old, was an art teacher and tennis coach at Northview. He has since left the employ of the Dothan school system and is free on 175-thousand dollar bond. His trial is scheduled to begin Monday morning.