WHITE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A former Middle Tennessee teacher is behind bars, charged with three counts of rape of a child, according to an arrest warrant.
“It infuriates me, it makes me so angry,” White County Sheriff Steve Page said. “You sit back and you wonder how somebody could do something like this. How is this even possible? How do you let yourself go so far to think that this is okay?”
Page said 27-year-old Austin Damon Allen was not only a White County Middle School history teacher, but also a coach.
According to an affidavit, Allen is accused of “unlawfully and intentionally” raping a girl under the age of 12 on Oct. 2, Oct. 3, and Oct. 4.
Although the sheriff couldn’t share much information, he did say the case involves a student: “We wonder how long it’s been going on. It’s still an ongoing investigation, so I can’t say a whole lot, but obviously some things have went wrong, very wrong, and the children for whatever reason now are speaking out.”
Page pointed out that although Allen worked in White County, he lived in Putnam County. Now, the sheriff wants parents across the area to talk to their children; look out for warning signs, like isolation or slipping grades; and know what’s on their kids’ phones.
“As the sheriff, I want to encourage the parents to be a parent, not just a friend,” Page said. “Talk to your children, find out what’s going on in their lives, look for changes.”
Page called this one of the most disturbing cases he’s investigated for reasons he couldn’t disclose. However, he emphasized more charges are possible amid fears that more victims could be out there.
“We want to let everybody know that we are right on top of this, we’re doing our job, and we’re going to continue to,” Page said.
“This is going to impact them for the rest of their lives,” News 2’s Nikki McGee said.
“Absolutely, it will, it will, and that’s something obviously this young man didn’t take into consideration, you know. You’re messing with children’s lives and their families,” Page replied.
Meanwhile, White County Schools issued the following statement about the investigation on social media over the weekend:
White County Schools is shocked and deeply saddened by the news surrounding a former middle school teacher, and our thoughts, prayers, and efforts are with the affected children, their families, and our school community. From the initial report, the teacher was suspended, removed from campus, and subsequently had his employment terminated. The school district is fully cooperating with authorities in their investigation and will work diligently to serve our community to navigate the waters in the wake of this deplorable incident. If anyone has information pertaining to this case, please contact the White County Sheriff’s Department. If you or a child are in need of counseling services, please contact the school system. This chapter is not a reflection of our school district and the incredible employees who lovingly serve students each day, and together, we will rebuild the trust and integrity that was damaged by the acts of one individual. As this is an ongoing investigation, the district has no further comment at this time.Kurt Dronebarger, White County Director of Schools
Allen is being held on a $750,000 bond. If you have any information about his other potential victims, you’re asked to call the White County Sheriff’s Office at 931-836-2700 or the District Attorney General’s Office at 931-528-5015.