Smith: There was no cover-up at TRM

Published 6:10 am Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith said school officials were alerted to alleged inappropriate behavior by a former T.R. Miller band director less than a week before he was arrested.

Smith said school officials were alerted on Sat., Aug. 16. On Monday morning, the Brewton Police Department and District Attorney Steve Billy launched an investigation into the alleged sexual relationship between Jeffrey Lance Gainous and at least one female student, and his sexting conversations with at least seven others.

“There was absolutely no cover-up at T.R. Miller,” Smith said of the accusations that school officials knew about the alleged inappropriate activities. “How we found out about it was that Mr. Anderson (the current band director) called me on Saturday and said that a parent had contacted him about some inappropriate text messages.

“I was out of town that Saturday, and on Monday, I contacted Chief (Monte) McGougin and said, ‘I think we may have some inappropriate behavior,’ ” Smith said. “Chief McGougin said he had someone in his office making a complaint as well,” Smith said. “And it snowballed from there.”

BPD investigators traveled to Thomas County, Ga., to interview Gainous, and on Wednesday, he was taken into custody and charged with one count of teacher-student sexual conduct, a Class B felony. Gainous was brought back to Brewton Thursday, and investigators continue to build a case against him.

Smith said school officials met with staff and students Wednesday morning to tell them of Gainous’ impending arrest.

“We told them this was coming, that he was going to be arrested,” he said. “We didn’t tell them all the details of why, because we didn’t know ourselves.”

Students were informed by grade level, and band students were addressed again, Smith said.

“We told students we knew there would be media attention,” he said. “We asked that they be mindful of their text message conversations and what they post on social media. We never told them to not talk about it.”

In a statement released Tuesday, Smith said, “We are working with the Child Advocacy Center, the Department of Human Resources and law enforcement personnel to be certain that proper steps are taken to effectively address these issues.

“Our main priority at this time is supporting our students and providing them with the resources they need,” he wrote. “If you know of any student who is in need of additional support, please contact Mrs. Bell, Mrs. Edge or me. We want our students to have the privacy that is due them and to receive the support they need.

“Because this is an ongoing investigation we are limited in our comments and responses at this time,” he wrote. “We do not want to say or do anything that may impede or hinder this ongoing investigation.  Thank you for continuing to lift up our students and staff with your prayers, encouraging words, and acts of kindness.”