A former teacher of the year at a public high school in Alabama was arrested on multiple charges including rape and sodomy of a student, WHNT reported Friday.
44-year-old Leslie Gillespie was charged with two counts of a school employee engaging in a sex act with a student under the age of 19, and one count each of second-degree rape and sodomy, Lawrence County Sheriff Max Sanders said, according to WHNT.
Sanders said Gillespie is a teacher at R.A. Hubbard High School, where she teaches English, The Associated Press (AP) reported. In 2019, Gillespie was honored with a teacher of the year award at the school.
R.A. Hubbard High School is part of the Lawrence County School District and is located in North Courtland, roughly 30 miles south of the Tennessee border.
Lawrence County School Superintendent Jon Bret Smith indicated in a statement to WLOX that Gillespie was an employee at the school at the time of the arrest. Gillespie was reportedly taken into custody on Thursday.
“The Lawrence County school district has been made aware that an employee has been arrested. Our school district treats this type of situation with the highest level of care. District leaders are conducting an investigation into this matter and will support law enforcement as they do the same,” the statement said, in part, adding that the district is working “diligently and expediently to resolve the situation.”
Lawrence County School District did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
Numerous teachers and other school employees have been charged with sexual misconduct involving students. A New York public school board member was charged in May with multiple crimes, including sexual misconduct and allegedly raping a 16-year-old on a boat.