Top stories of 2013: Two Vina teachers arrested for sleeping with students
Perhaps one of the biggest stories of the year came out of the small town of Vina where two teachers were accused of having sex with two different 17-year-old female students.
Brian Scott Keeton, 38, of Carbon Hill, was arrested on Nov. 13 and charged with one count of being a school employee engaging in a sexual act with a student under the age of 19, which is a Class B felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison if convicted.
This arrest came just five days after Vina physical education teacher Sonny Dewaine Tibbs, 35, of Hamilton, was arrested on three counts of the same charge after law enforcement officials discovered he had allegedly been sexually involved with a 17-year-old Vina senior.
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said Keeton and Tibbs were both accused of having sex with different 17-year-old female students – Keeton on one occasion and Tibbs on three separate occasions.
Oliver said the alleged incidents did not take place on school grounds.
Oliver said the sheriff’s office was made aware of the allegations against Keeton through the investigation of Tibbs.
“While our investigators were following up on the allegations against Mr. Tibbs, information came to light that indicated Mr. Keeton had also been involved in a sexual relationship with a different student at Vina,” Oliver said.
Oliver said investigators spoke with the 17-year-old student on the morning of Nov. 12 before picking Keeton up at Vina High School for questioning.
Tibbs reportedly confessed to his ongoing relationship with a student, but Oliver said Keeton denied the allegations against him.
According to school officials, this was Keeton’s second year as a math teacher at Vina and his first year as the head coach of the boys basketball team. Tibbs has been employed by VHS for eight years as a physical education teacher and former girls basketball coach.
“We are shocked and saddened at the recent actions alleged against two teachers in our school system,” Franklin County Schools Superintendent Gary Williams said following Keeton’s arrest.
“This is certainly not the kind of behavior we would ever condone, and we are cooperating fully with both investigations.”
Both teachers have been suspended with pay per Alabama law until the allotted amount of time has passed and a hearing is held to determine their dismissal.
A public meeting with school officials and members of the law enforcement community was held at the school on Dec. 9 to discuss the arrests with concerned parents, teachers, community members and students.
“I think the meeting went very well, and I think the speakers and officials did a good job explaining the situation and answering questions,” assistant superintendent Donald Borden said.
“Vina is a good school, with good teachers, good students, and a good administration, and we want the parents and the community to feel like it is still a safe and secure place for their children to be.
“These incidents have caused a lot of negative opinions and discussion about Vina, but we want people to understand that this isn’t a reflection on Vina High School or the Vina community as a whole. It is a reflection on a couple of people and the bad choices they made. Hopefully this meeting helped people to see that.”