Former Lee University campus choir director indicted on rape charge

James Phillips / Thumbnail
photo James Phillips

Former Lee University campus choir director James Phillips has been indicted on one count of rape, according to Bradley County, Tennessee, court records.

Phillips, 68, is accused of raping a victim in 2014. He was arrested by the Bradley County Sheriff's Office on Monday and booked into the county jail.

His bond was set at $25,000, and he was released a few hours after his arrest, according to the sheriff's office.

Phillips did not return a request for comment Thursday.

"Lee University officials responded immediately to this situation when it came to our attention in 2014," university spokesperson Kendra Gray said in an email. "We have cooperated fully with the investigation and aren't at liberty to publicly discuss the matter at this time."

The university did not return a request to clarify why Phillips remained in his position until 2020 if the university was made aware of the situation six years ago.

The university also did not respond to questions from the Times Free Press about why Phillips left his position, but it did confirm that he resigned on Sept. 17.

The university's student newspaper, the Lee Clarion, reported that Phillips cited resigning for "personal reasons."

Luke Gambill, assistant professor of music, has assumed the role of choir director, a role he will fill in addition to his duties as a full-time professor, university spokesperson Brian Conn said in an email.

Phillips held the part-time position since the fall of 2007, Conn said.

The university provides a fully staffed professional counseling center throughout the school year, and students are reminded frequently that these services are available to them as needed, Conn said.

Contact Rosana Hughes at or follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.