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franklin county times

Vina teacher case settled


A former Vina faculty member has settled his case after being indicted in May for being a school employee engaging in a sexual act with a student under the age of 19.

Sonny Dewaine Tibbs, 525 Wakefield St., Hamilton, was accused of being sexually involved with a 17-year-old Vina High School student at the time of his arrest. He was indicted in May and was initially set to have his hearing Dec. 22, but District Attorney Joey Rushing said the case has been settled and will not go to trial.

“We brought in the victim’s family and the victim and we were able to negotiate a settlement in this case,” Rushing said. “I wouldn’t say the victim and her family are happy but we are satisfied with the result.”

Rushing said that these cases are often settled outside of court.

“We try and come to an agreement in these kinds of cases so that the victim doesn’t have to testify in court,” Rushing said. “Any case involving sexual activity can be hard for the victim to talk about what happened.”

Tibbs was initially charged with three counts of being a school employee while engaging in a sexual act with a student under the age of 19, a Class B felony that is punishable by two to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Tibbs agreed to plead guilty to one charge of second-degree assault, a Class C felony, and one charge of sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor. Tibbs will serve 60 days in jail starting at the beginning of the year and will have a 10-year sentence that will result in five years of probation in this case.

Tibbs will also have his teaching license revoked in the state of Alabama and will have to register as a sex offender.

Tibbs also agreed to have no further contact with the victim and the mother of the victim was allowed to read a victim impact statement to Tibbs.

“This agreement accomplished several things for us,” Rushing said. “He will serve some time in jail and he will no longer be teaching.”

The victims took into consideration the fact that Tibbs has young children of his own and that putting him in prison for an extended period of time would take him away from them, according to Rushing.

The Sherriff’s Department did a great job with this case,” Rushing said. “We were able to get confession statements early on.

“Any type of case like this involving sexual activity is hard to get admissions from people.”

Tibbs was indicted by a grand jury in May on two counts of being a school employee engaging in sexual activity with a student.

Tibbs is one of two Vina faculty members to be arrested in Nov. 2013 for misconduct with students of a sexual nature.

Brian Scott Keeton, 73 Lost Creek Lane, Carbon Hill, was arrested five days after Tibbs.

Rushing said that Keeton’s case is likely to come up on the March docket next year.


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