A Hamilton County teacher said in court Wednesday that he doesn't know all the charges he's facing.
Duane Sanders, the first grade teacher arrested and charged with 10 counts of child sexual abuse, appeared at a preliminary hearing before Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman.
"Are you aware of the charges in your case?" Steelman asked Sanders, who appeared wearing an orange correctional jumpsuit and shackles.
"Not 100%," Sanders responded, adding that he had not yet hired an attorney.
"You are charged with a multicount indictment including aggravated sexual battery and continuous sexual abuse of a child, aggravated rape of a child," Steelman said. "You have been charged multiple counts on some of those charges."
Sanders, recognized by Hamilton County Schools as an "HCS Hero" in April 2021, did not enter a plea during Wednesday's hearing. His case was filed under seal and presented directly to the grand jury -- meaning details of the charges against him are not public -- according to court officials. He was arrested March 21.
Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp has said her office will not comment on the case.
"In these types of cases, confidentiality is of extreme importance in order to best protect children in our community," Wamp said in a March 23 email.
Sanders' family members filled two rows of the courtroom Wednesday.
Wallace A. Smith Elementary School officials met with Wamp, who revealed there was probable cause to believe Sanders had sexually abused multiple first grade students, according to a news release announcing Sanders' arrest.
On March 3, police were notified of an allegation against Sanders, and Hamilton County Schools officials said they were notified two weeks prior of a Department of Children's Services investigation into Sanders, a news release said.
Sanders has been suspended without pay.
Sanders, who is being held in the Bradley County Jail, is scheduled to return to court April 14.