Pell City teacher charged with second degree rape - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Pell City teacher charged with second degree rape

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A Pell City teacher off the job after being charged with second degree rape by the St. Clair County District Attorney.  Heather Whitten, a teacher with Williams intermediate School in Pell City, was arrested last Friday.  Dr. Bobby Hathcock, Pell City School Superintendent, said Monday, "Whitten is no longer with us."

From school leaders, to people  in Pell City this has been a very sad and surprising arrest. The Pell City Superintendent told us an investigation like this one is incredibly rare. Especially for a teacher with no previous history of problems.

"I graduated in 2000 and I've never heard of anything like this, so it's very surprising about it," Christie England, who lives in Pell City said.

5th grade reading and language arts teacher Heather Whitten's arrest came as a surprise for school alumni and people living in Pell City.

 "It's terrible. If it happened at my daughter's school I wouldn't like it at all," Jennifer Duncan, who lives in Pell City said. "She's going to that school next year. It really makes you think. It makes me worry."

"Kids look up to their teachers," Stephanie Fugatt, a Pell City resident said. "They are supposed to be role models. Whenever they are arrested for something like this, it's not right. How do you explain it to your kids?"

Whitten was arrested Friday afternoon at Williams Intermediate, but school leaders say the incident did not happen on their campus.

 "That was the first time we were aware there were any kind of problems," Dr. Bobby Hathcock, Pell City Superintendent said. 

Whitten has been suspended with pay until the investigation is complete. In the meantime, a substitute will fill in for her classes.

"The welfare of our students and staff and those kinds of things are of the utmost importance to us," Dr. Hathcock said. "We're going to insure they are taken care of. All of our employees go through a serious state and federal background check and they have to pass that before we can employ them."

The St. Clair County Sheriff's Office is investigating the case. Whitten's court hearing is scheduled for April 4th.