A former LaFayette High School teacher and city councilman pleaded guilty last week to having sex with one of his students.
Norman Earl Hodge III, who was arrested in February on two counts of sexual assault by an authority figure, was sentenced to five years of probation after making the plea in Walker County Superior Court on Nov. 4. Hodge also had to pay $2,850 in fines and fees.
According to a police report, Hodge had sex with a student from his economics class twice during Christmas break last year. The first time, the two met at a McDonald's. Hodge, 42, told the 17-year-old that he bought her a Kavu bag, which looks like a backpack with one strap.
Police said the girl followed Hodge to a lake house in LaFayette where Hodge gave her the gift and the two had sex. They started texting each other after that, police say, and they had sex again one week later.
Eventually, a parent told LaFayette High School Principal Michael Culberson about the relationship, and he met with the girl. On Jan. 21, she admitted having sex with Hodge twice.
"Other than that nothing happened," she wrote. "He's a good guy and I'd really hate for him to loose [sic] his job. So lets [sic] just end all this, please."
In Georgia, the age of consent is 16. However, according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 16-6-5.1, it's a crime for a teacher to have sex with a student. It's a crime punishable with up to 25 years in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000.
On Feb. 1 -- 11 days after the girl admitted to having sex with Hodge -- the teacher met with Walker County Schools Superintendent Damon Raines, Walker County Schools Director of Personnel Heather Holloway and Culberson.
A written statement from Holloway gives this account: Raines told Hodge that a student accused him of having sex with her. The superintendent asked Hodge if he wanted to respond. Hodge hesitated and began to cry.
"It's true," he said. He resigned his teaching position.
It was his second arrest as a teacher. In October 2008, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press archives, police charged Hodge with possession of alcohol on school property during a football game at Southeast Whitfield High School.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476.