The former Athens high school substitute teacher and track coach arrested this week for allegedly sexually assaulting a student was the subject of previous complaints of alleged sexual misconduct with minor students over the past decade, according to Athens-Clarke County police.
Michael Henry Scott, 29, of Timberwood Court was charged Tuesday with child molestation, enticing a minor for indecent purposes and permitting a minor to engage in or assist in sexually explicit conduct for a visual medium.
Scott’s job title was “lay coach,” which refers to someone employed for coaching responsibilities only and is not a teacher or other type of staff member, according to Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, spokesperson for the Clarke County School District. He held the track coach job at both Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals high schools, officials said. He also worked as a substitute teacher.
One of the previous alleged incidents happened in 2015 – two years after Scott was hired by the school district as a substitute teacher and track coach. Two more sexual incidents involving Scott and minors were reported to county police in 2007.
Epifanio Rodriguez, public information officer for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, said Friday that Scott was a 19-year-old recent high school graduate in 2007 and both students involved in the 2007 incident were high school-aged minors.
No alleged crimes occurred on school grounds. Rodriguez said the allegations would have been relayed to school officials had they occurred at school.
“In the 2007 cases, one of the mothers overheard her child speaking to the other child victim on the phone,” Rodriguez said. “She questioned her child and learned about the incident, then contacted the other mother and both of them reported it to us.”
The police spokesman added, “Both parents, after being contacted by detectives, stated that Mr. Scott needed counseling and they did not wish to proceed with any prosecution.”
Police are being careful about the information they publicly release concerning Scott’s alleged crimes.
“We believe that there may possibly be more victims,” Rodriguez said. “We cannot release specifics of what occurred, because it may tarnish any other outcries we receive.”
When commenting Thursday about Scott’s arrest, Athens-Clarke County police revealed that in 2015 and while employed by the school district, Scott allegedly was involved in a sexual incident involving a minor student, but that “was handled by school district police.”
Sullivan confirmed on Friday that Scott worked for the school system in the 2014-15 school year as a lay coach. In addition to the district’s high schools, Sullivan noted Scott also worked at Hilsman and Coile middle schools, and he also coached in football and basketball programs.
Though Sullivan noted that all district employees undergo a criminal background check, she did not address the alleged sexual misconduct that took place in 2015.
Meanwhile, an Athens-Clarke County Magistrate judge granted Scott a $15,000 bond during a Thursday hearing.
Scott was released from the Clarke County Jail on Friday upon posting bond and being fitted with an ankle monitor the judge ordered him to wear while under house arrest, according to a court clerk.
OnlineAthens.com will update this story as more information is made available.