Former Lamar Reese Elementary Magnet School Teacher Phillip Burns.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Former Dougherty County teacher Phillip Burns, a 2012 Teacher of the Year finalist, has been charged with child molestation and felony sodomy. He was being held without bond Friday evening in the Dougherty County Jail.
Burns, a former third-grade science teacher at Lamar Reese Elementary Magnet School, was arrested Wednesday in Columbus by Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office deputies on warrants obtained by the Dougherty County School System Police Department.
DCSS Police Chief Troy Conley confirmed Friday afternoon that his department was conducting the investigation.
“The investigation began after we received a complaint from a parent who had concerns about text communications between her son and Mr. Burns,” Conley said. “The son is a high school student. The communications continued after Mr. Burns moved to Columbus. We had more than enough information to secure warrants for his arrest.”
The Muscogee County School District issued a statement late Friday afternoon: “An employee of the Muscogee County School District is arrested on charges involving inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor. Phillip Burns was arrested Wednesday, October 31, 2012, by the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Department and the Dougherty County School District Police Department.
“Burns was first employed on September 28, 2012, as an Academic Coach at Wesley Heights Elementary in Columbus. None of the allegations involve Muscogee County School District students. Burns is being held without bond in Albany, Georgia. The Muscogee County School District is still in the process of obtaining more information about the criminal allegations.”
Conley said it was possible that Burns may have been involved with more than one student.
“We have had several more people come forward since the arrest, and we have reason to believe there may be multiple victims involved,” Conley said.
The chief added that the initial victim, and possible others, are all high school aged males.
Conley said that the case was still under active investigation and that additional charges could be filed.
Burns was a teacher at Lamar Reese from 2008 until September. He was one of eight finalists for the Dougherty County School System’s 2012 Teacher of the Year.