ABILENE, Texas – A teacher initially placed on leave over a book controversy has been charged with trying to have sexual contact with three students, allegedly even asking one girl what she would do for a better grade.
Kaleb Tierce, 26, was indicted Thursday on three counts of attempted improper relationship between educator and student, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison. Tierce, who no longer teaches, surrendered Friday and was released on $30,000 bond.
The investigation began over a complaint that his ninth-grade class reading list contained a book about a murderer who has sex with his victims' bodies, but Tierce was not charged with providing harmful material to a minor, a misdemeanor.
His attorney did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press on Monday.
Taylor County sheriff's Sgt. John Cummins said Tierce allegedly asked one girl to come to his home under a "normal pretense," then allegedly kissed her and exposed himself to her.
Tierce asked another girl "what she would be willing to do for a better grade" and asked a third girl for sexual favors, according to the indictment. All of the incidents allegedly happened in 2005.
Tierce taught pre-Advanced Placement English and was an assistant football coach at Jim Ned High School in Tuscola, about 20 miles south of Abilene, until he was placed on paid leave a year ago.
That was after a 14-year-old student's parents complained to the Taylor County Sheriff's Office that Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God" was too graphic for teens.
But amid the book uproar, most people in the West Texas town of 700 seemed to rally around Tierce, saying he should be reinstated because he was a great teacher and coach. Some students and athletes even wore armbands emblazoned with Tierce's initials.
Later, allegations surfaced concerning an inappropriate relationship between Tierce and at least one former student.
In March, the Jim Ned school board voted not to renew Tierce's teaching contract for the current school year, the Abilene Reporter-News reported Monday.
Tierce is under review by the State Board for Educator Certification's Professional Discipline Unit, according to the agency's Web site. The review is standard when a teacher is being investigated by law enforcement for alleged criminal conduct, but Tierce's teacher certification could be revoked.