A former Denison High School coach pleaded guilty this week to one count of inappropriate relationship between an educator and a student and was sentenced to five years deferred adjudication.
Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith said Thursday that Tharon Lance Day also agreed to surrender his Texas teaching credentials as part of the plea.
Smith said there was no evidence of actual physical contact between Day and the 18-year-old Denison High School student involved in the case and the student signed papers saying she didn't want the case prosecuted.
Day was represented in the case by Thomas Redwine who could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
Smith said the case rested on Day's confession that he had exchanged inappropriate material with the student, and the student's statement about the situation.
Smith said given that they didn't even have copies of the photos exchanged, he thought the plea was a good way to resolve the case.
"Had he not been a teacher, it wouldn't have been crime," Smith said of the exchange which he said still showed very poor judgment on Day's part.
Day was arrested in June of 2018 on the charge. At that time, Denison Police Department Lt. Mike Eppler said, "It’s certainly a serious accusation and it has been taken seriously by everybody involved — not just us at the police department, but also by the school district and the student’s family.”
According to a criminal complaint filed with the Grayson County District Attorney’s office, law enforcement officials first learned of the relationship on April 13 of 2018 after a Denison High employee contacted Denison Police. The employee told investigators that he had been approached by a student the day before who said he heard rumors of a female student involved in a “sexual relationship” with one of the district’s coaches. The employee said he also interviewed another student with reported knowledge of the relationship the following day and she told him that she had seen at least one message between Day and the female student and that the two had been communicating regularly through the Snapchat messaging platform.
“DHS and DISD administrators investigated the alleged incident and notified the Denison Police Department,” the district said in an emailed statement provided to the Herald Democrat on Friday. “Denison ISD personnel notified the Texas Education Agency to report the incident, according to TEA regulations and requirements.”
On April 16 2018, investigators went to Denison High School to interview the female student who had reportedly been messaging Day. According to the complaint, the student told investigators that she and Day had met at a coffee shop in October 2017 in order to help Day prepare for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting. The student said she and Day exchanged phone numbers and began communication, but the tone of their conversations changed in January.
The student told investigators that she and Day began communicating through Snapchat and they had exchanged nude photos and sexual messages to each other. However, the student advised that she and Day only hugged and never had sex.
Investigators examined the student’s phone with her permission and found messages which indicated that Day had been “giving her advice on friends and relationships.”
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