Former student of Smith County cheer coach saw warning signs before his arrest

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Detectives say Andrew Halford admitted to hiding a GoPro camera in the girls' bathroom for "sexual gratification."

SMITH COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Smith County cheer coach Andrew Halford appeared Friday at his first court hearing since being indicted on a dozen charges related to a hidden camera investigation.

Detectives say Halford, who coached at Elite Cheer and Gymnastics in Carthage, admitted to hiding a GoPro camera in the girls’ bathroom for “sexual gratification.” The judge increased his bond Friday to $100,000.

“I hope he never gets out,” Ashby Long, who was trained by Halford, told News 2.

Long said she trusted Halford with her life, as her coach both at her school and at Elite Cheer and Gymnastics in Smith County for eight years.

“It honestly broke my heart that I put so much trust in somebody and then they completely break it like that,” the teen stated.

Investigators in Smith County have identified six victims, all minors. Many of the victims are friends with Long.

“One of the girls that’s a part of this case is like 12, 13 and she is a good family friend of mine and it broke my heart to hear how badly it had scarred her. She was just up for nights crying, and I just can’t imagine. I’m so thankful I wasn’t one of the ones that was filmed,” said Long. 

Long says Halford was like a best friend to the girls, but in the last year she saw some red flags as the coach inappropriately messaged her on social media.

“Just like asking me to come to the gym by myself and tumble or that I could change there instead of going home and changing. Of course, I never did because I was always so uncomfortable by it, but he would say those kinds of things and I was just like, that’s not ok,” she explained. 

The latest news putting Long more at ease knowing Halford is locked up, with a $100,000 bond.

“Makes me feel a lot better, safer for sure that he’s not able to do that to other girls anymore,” said Long.

Now she is standing in support of her friends hoping justice is served. Halford is expected back in a Smith County courtroom in August.

A similar investigation is also happening in Franklin at Premier Athletics where Halford also used to work. The circumstances are nearly identical, in both cases a GoPro camera was found in the girls’ bathroom. Franklin Police aren’t naming the suspect in their investigation until official charges have been filed. They say there are 55 victims in that case, which is still being reviewed by the District Attorney General.

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