RINGGOLD, Ga. -- In the storage room near the Lakeview Middle School band class one morning, a 14-year-old girl said she heard the teacher moving something.
She looked through the door and saw Thomas Blevins propping a music stand against his classroom's main entrance. The girl and the teacher were alone. If people walked in, she thought, Blevins would be able to hear them. She didn't like that.
She already was uncomfortable, she would tell a jury five years later. When she came to the room on Dec. 23, 2010, she thought other high school students were meeting Blevins, too. Instead, she said, he told her to go back to the storage room. He told her to wait.
Then, she said, he made his move. He rubbed her legs. He tried to kiss her. He pulled her into his lap, took off her shirt, fondled her breasts. At some point, he turned off the lights.
She said he pulled her to the ground, rubbed her vagina and ordered her to perform oral sex.
The woman, who is now 19 years old, said she didn't tell anyone at first. She said Blevins unlocked the gym bathroom for her and she tried to wash the act away.
But two years later, in December 2012, Blevins lost his job at Lakeview Middle School. The father of another student had found texts Blevins had sent his daughter, texts about how pretty she was and how much he liked to cuddle.
This woman, the one who said she felt trapped by Blevins in 2010, decided to tell a friend what happened to her. The friend told a guidance counselor, who told the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office.
Blevins is now on trial in Catoosa County on allegations that he molested two girls. He faces six counts of sexual assault by a teacher, six counts of child molestation, two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes, two counts of false imprisonment and one count of aggravated child molestation.
Only one of the two accusers testified Tuesday. The trial resumes today at 9 a.m.
Blevins' attorney, Chris Townley, told the jury during his opening argument Tuesday that prosecutors are using Blevins' passion for his job against him. He said Blevins texted with his students, cracked jokes that now seem inappropriate because that's how teenagers like to talk. To teach the children, Townley said, Blevins felt he needed to connect with them on their level.
"They're silly," Townley said. "They're sad. They joke. They reach out."
Townley's counterpart, Assistant District Attorney Alan Norton, introduced other former female students who said Blevins acted inappropriately toward them. Norton tried to convince the jury that Blevins thought often about molesting underage girls.
A former student who is now 20 said Blevins asked her what color her underwear was and once pulled down her sweatpants when she was taking a private lesson in his classroom. When she went to North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega, Blevins told her he wanted to visit her in her dorm room, she testified.
Another former student, now 21, said Blevins invited her to swim at his house as a teenager. When she said she didn't have a swimsuit, he told her she didn't need one.
A girl who is now 16 said Blevins kept her in his office for about 45 minutes after class one time. She said he told her she couldn't get a late pass to her next class unless she licked his ear.
Townley said some of these incidents were taken out of context, that his client liked to joke with his students. Also, while cross-examining the alleged sexual assault victim on Tuesday, he pointed out inconsistencies in her story.
Talking to the woman from the December 2010 incident, he pointed out that she continued to send him text messages in the days after the assault. He also showed that she told a staffer at the Children's Advocacy Center that she struggles to remember events and suffers from bipolar disorder.
On Tuesday, she said Blevins pulled her to the floor by her right arm in the storage room. In 2012, Townley pointed out, she didn't tell investigators that is how she ended up on the floor with him.
In 2012, she also told investigators that Blevins made her unzip his pants for him. On Tuesday, she testified that Blevins unzipped his own pants.
But Townley's key argument was that this assault allegedly occurred in a storage room with the lights off. Townley said the room has no windows and the door rubs against the floor, leaving no space for light to emerge. You can't see someone a foot in front of you, Townley said.
But the woman testified that Blevins had pointed to his genitals in that dark storage room and told her to perform oral sex. Townley asked: How do you know he pointed there?
"From shadows," the woman said.
"Where are you seeing shadows?" Townley asked.
"The silhouette," she said.
"Where is the light coming from that you see a silhouette?"
"I don't know."
Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6476.