UTC theft case spurs legislative action

NASHVILLE - People seeking jobs at student housing at Tennessee public colleges and universities will have to undergo criminal background checks under legislation passed by lawmakers in response to an incident involving a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga student.

The Kristen Azevedo Act, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Delores Gresham, R-Somerville, was approved last week as the General Assembly wrapped up its 2011 legislative session.

Gresham said in a news release that she brought the bill after a one-time resident assistant at a UTC dorm was charged by police with burglarizing dorm rooms and planting cameras. The cameras were later discovered and reported to police.

Gresham's release did not identify the man, but the Times Free Press reported in late March that 23-year-old Bernard Morris faces more than 14 felony charges on burglary and theft charges related to the camera-planting matter.

The article cited court documents that say Morris was charged with stalking a girl in 2007 after her family's house burned down and he messaged the girl, writing, "I don't think what happen [sic] to your house or dog was an accident I just hope nothing nothing happen [sic] to your new house in Ooltewah."

For complete story see Wednesday's Times Free Press.