Thursday, September 25, 2008
Former teacher charged
By BARRY BURLESON
Former Marshall Academy music teacher Christopher Mirante, 31, of Taska Road in Red Banks, faces two charges of sexual misconduct, following an investigation by the sheriff’s department last week.
Mirante is charged with one count of molesting (touching a child for lustful purposes) under Mississippi Code 1972 Annotated and Amended, Section 97-5-23, according to Sheriff Kenny Dickerson. He is also charged with one count sexual battery under Section 97-3-95, the sheriff said.
Warrants for Mirante’s arrest were issued by circuit court judge Andy Howorth on Tuesday, Sept. 16, Dickerson said.
“Under Mississippi law, Section 99-3-28, a sworn law enforcement officer or licensed teacher is entitled to a probable cause hearing before a circuit judge of the jurisdiction where the alleged crimes are to have occurred. The probable cause hearing is to determine if adequate probable cause exists for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the accused,” Dickerson said.
The case awaits future action of the Marshall County grand jury, he said.
Dickerson said his department became involved in the investigation of allegations after a parent telephoned the sheriff’s department and later, along with his daughter, personally came to the sheriff's office and lodged a complaint September 15.
“This is how the investigation began initially,” the sheriff said.
After receiving a detailed report from the parent and teenage daughter, the investigation continued through Friday of last week, Dickerson said.
A second allegation was lodged with the sheriff’s office regarding another person whom Mirante is alleged to have involvement with, resulting in a second charge. the sheriff said.
“As a result of information from another parent and student a second charge was filed,” Dickerson said. “Our department conducted other interviews and inquiries after the first two charges were filed.”
He said the investigation remains open.
“This is not to say these two charges will be the only ones,” Dickerson said. “If facts and circumstances and evidence comes to light in the future, other charges could possibly be filed.”
Dickerson said his office worked closely with District Attorney Ben Creekmore and his assistant district attorney where the details and facts surrounding the case were discussed.
“The investigation indicates some of the violations occurred in previous months and some in years past,” Dickerson said. “Some are alleged to have occurred at the school and at least one other location.”
Officials with the school were “totally and fully cooperative with law enforcement and the district attorney's office in regard to the investigations,” Dickerson said.
Mirante was released Tuesday, Sept. 16, on $50,000 bond.
The school issued a statement last week.
“Marshall Academy is shocked and saddened to learn of the criminal allegations made against former teacher Chris Mirante,” the written statement said. “Marshall Academy wants to ensure you that our paramount concern is the safety and well-being of our students.”
Mirante came to Marshall Academy in the year 2000 and was starting his eighth year at the school. He resigned September 15.
Marshall Academy board members and administrators met with members of the Patriot Performers and their parents last week concerning the allegations and “to let our students know they are our main concern,” headmaster Jane Hubbard said.
She also said counselors were on campus Monday and Tuesday of this week to meet with students, parents and teachers who needed assistance.
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