published Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Indictment: Georgia teacher with HIV molested teen boy

ATLANTA — A south Georgia elementary school teacher accused of engaging in sex acts with a teen while knowing he was HIV-positive has been indicted by a grand jury.

A five-count indictment filed Wednesday charges Phillip Marquis Burns, 29, with child molestation, aggravated child molestation, reckless conduct, child enticement and criminal solicitation.

Burns is accused of masturbating and having oral sex with a 16-year-old boy and asking another boy to send him explicit pictures of himself, the indictment says. The former teacher is accused of having sexual contact with the teen in May of 2012, and is charged with reckless conduct because investigators say the man knew he was HIV positive.

A person engaging in intercourse or oral sex with someone while knowingly failing to disclose a positive HIV status is punishable by up to 10 years in prison under Georgia law.

Burns left the district before he was arrested and relocated to Columbus, Ga., Dougherty County schools spokesman R.D. Harter said.

Burns worked for the school district from July 2008 until September 2012 and was employed at Lamar Reese Magnet School, Harter said. He added that none of the victims were associated with the school where he worked.

In 2012, the school nominated Burns as a teacher of the year, Harter said.

"I'm proud of our police department for conducting the investigation and taking someone out of the classroom who shouldn't have been there," he said.

Burns is being represented by Willie C. Weaver -- who also serves as a City of Albany Municipal Court judge, Dougherty County court clerk officials said Thursday afternoon.

Weaver didn't immediately return a message seeking comment, and numbers listed for Burns were out of service.

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