Fayette High School teacher quits amid accusations

Sunday, February 1, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:02 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

While returning from the State of the State in Jefferson City, Larry Leech, the superintendent of Fayette Schools, was stunned by a call from the local high school principal.

The principal told him a popular and well-liked teacher and coach at Fayette High School might have inappropriately groped a 15-year-old student. And he said he had evidence to back his accusations.

A day later he confronted the social studies teacher, 40-year-old Kenneth R. Thompson of Harrisburg, and asked him to quit.

Thompson did not deny the allegations and resigned after a year and a half in the school, Leech said.

"It’s a real tragedy," said Leech, who later reported the accusation against Thompson to the Missouri Division of Family Services. "He was a well-liked teacher and an excellent coach."

Leech said this is the first claim of misconduct against Thompson.

On Thursday the Howard County Prosecutor Mason Gebhardt charged Thompson with first-degree sexual misconduct, a class A misdemeanor.

Gebhardt said that if Thompson is found guilty, he will make sure he never steps into a classroom again.

He said the victim’s statement will be used as the primary evidence. He also said the school has given him more than 300 e-mails sent by Thompson to the girl and another female student, some of then "incriminating."

Thompson was taken into custody on Thursday, but was released a short time later after he paid part of a $5,000 surety bond.

Gebhardt said Thompson will be ar-raigned in an associated court on Feb. 10. Under a misdemeanor charge, Thompson could face up to one year in prison.

Thompson could not be reached for comment Saturday.

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