Tuesday, February 17, 2009

MS: Teacher arrested on abuse charges

Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009
By MARGARET BAKER - mbbaker@sunherald.com

GULFPORT — North Gulfport 7th and 8th Grade teacher and basketball coach Catryna L. Martin has been arrested on charges accusing her of sex crimes against a former female student, Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford said.

The 28-year-old science teacher was arrested Friday and charged with one count each of molestation and sexual battery of a 14-year-old girl while in a position of trust or authority.

Martin, the police chief said, is accused of committing the crimes at her home during the first week of February while she was supposed to be tutoring the girl.

The girl’s parents reported the alleged abuse to police, and Weatherford said the investigation that followed resulted in Martin’s arrest in the 12400 block of U.S. 49 on Friday.

Harrison County Justice Court Judge Gene Dedeaux set Martin’s total bond at $1 million.

Harrison County School Superintendent Henry Arledge said Saturday that Martin would not be able to return to school to teach classes or to coach basketball because he was suspending her employment, effective immediately. He said Martin would have the right to request a hearing before the Harrison County School Board to appeal the decision. Otherwise, he said the ruling stands, and she faces termination. If she’s convicted of the charges, Arledge said her license to teach in Mississippi would be revoked.

“I’m shocked,” Arledge said. “The public expects more of public employees than that. That kind of activity cannot and will not be tolerated in the school system, We just have to go forward at this point.”

Arledge said Martin had been teaching at the school for about three years and there had been no previous complaints lodged against her. The student in this case, he said, no longer attended Martin’s classes because she had advanced to another grade.

So far, Weatherford said, there are no other allegations against the teacher, though their investigation was continuing.

Martin is the second South Mississippi teacher, and second youth coach, to face felony charges for alleged sex crimes against minors in the last 13 months.

Rebecca Dawn Bogard, 28, was a science teacher at the Center for New Opportunities — the Biloxi School District’s alternative school — when she was arrested Jan. 18, 2008, and charged with one count each of exploitation of a child, touching of a child for lustful purposes and statutory rape. A Harrison County grand jury later indicted her on the charges.

She was suspended with pay and later resigned. She remains free today on $50,000 bond pending trial.

In an unrelated case involving minors, Edward Scott Yancey, 37, and former volunteer coach with the Long Beach Recreation League, is accused, among other things, of molesting two 10-year-old boys he had coached in the summer of 2008. Authorities seized eight computers and 300 discs from Yancey’s home that contained sexually explicit pictures of children.

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