YMCA gym instructor who was also a Hamilton County teacher arrested and charged with sexual battery

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office/ Robert Hardeman

A gym instructor at a Chattanooga YMCA location who also worked as a special education teacher at East Hamilton Middle School has been arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery after allegedly inappropriately touching two minor female students while coaching at the YMCA on Thursday.

According to the affidavit obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, one of the victims told her parents that Robert Hardeman, 53, inappropriately touched her and another classmate during gym class at the YMCA on Shallowford Road. Her father immediately called the police.

The victims, who were unnamed because they are minors, said Hardeman made them do exercises while looking at their "bottom and breast" areas, according to the affidavit.

While running, Hardeman followed close behind the girls and touched their "bottoms" several times, the affidavit stated.

Hardeman paid special attention to one of the victims during the class, saying he'd be willing to "take you to the track, especially you," according to the affidavit.

Hardeman left the YMCA prior to police arrival and did not answer their calls. Parents of the victims wish to press charges, according to the affidavit.

Hamilton County school officials said Hardeman is currently suspended without pay as of Friday.

He's been employed with the district since 2005.

The YMCA did not immediately return a request for comment.

Contact Carmen Nesbitt at cnesbitt@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327.