- (Photo: iheartmyteacher.org)
A 29-year-old 2012 teacher of the year nominee in south Georgia was indicted by a grand jury last Wednesday for having sexual relations with a 16-year-old boy while knowing he is HIV-positive.
According to a report in the Ledger-Enquirer, the teacher, Phillip Marquis Burns, was first arrested while he was working as an academic coach at Wesley Heights Elementary School in the Muscogee County School District in November 2012.
Last Wednesday a grand jury issued a five-count indictment charging the teacher with child molestation, aggravated child molestation, reckless conduct, child enticement and criminal solicitation.
The indictment alleges that Burns masturbated and had oral sex with a 16-year-old boy and ask another boy to send him explicit pictures.
Burns reportedly had sexual contact with the teen in May 2012 and now faces up-to 10 years in prison under Georgia law because he had sexual contact with the teen while knowing he was HIV positive.
Burns, who left Lamar Reese Magnet School for the Arts as a third-grade science teacher in Sept. 2012, was also a finalist for the 2012 teacher of the year award in Dougherty County. He began working in Muscogee County later that same month.
Police chief of the Dougherty County School System said they began investigating the star teacher after a parent complained about a text message between Burns and their teenage child.
"I'm proud of our police department for conducting the investigation and taking someone out of the classroom who shouldn't have been there," said R.D. Harter, a spokesman for the Dougherty County schools.
According to a Fox News report, Dougherty County court clerk officials said Burns is being represented by Willie C. Weaver, who serves as a city of Albany Municipal Court judge as well.
Weaver did not immediately return calls seeking a response to the charges.