May 15, 2013

Former gym teacher’s background check ‘clean’

Rachel Brown

— A gym instructor arrested Friday for sending inappropriate texts and photos to a 15-year-old former student had a background check before he was hired which came back clean, said Creative Arts Guild director Terry Tomasello.

The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office charged William “Billy” Newcom, 38, 81 Hope Drive, Rock Springs, with one felony count of computer or electronic pornography and child exploitation prevention after officials said one of the girls he used to teach at the Guild started receiving messages and photos from him about a month ago. Newcom remained in the Whitfield County jail without bond Tuesday evening.

Tomasello said Newcom had already been hired when she arrived, and he had passed a criminal background check required for any instructor to work there.

Authorities said he sent the former student messages recently trying to get her to meet him for sex. Tomasello said she didn’t know anything about the case until officials announced it Monday.

“He hasn’t worked for us in about a year,” she said, explaining Newcom quit the part-time, independent contractor job after sustaining a torn rotator cuff.

He worked for the Guild for about three or four years before that teaching students from kindergarten through 12th grade, she said. During that time, he was a “great instructor” and parents “only had good things to say about him,” Tomasello said.

“All of our instructors have background checks, and his was clean,” she said. “I’ve never had any complaints from parents. We’re totally blindsided. ... We work very hard whenever we hire anyone because we know they work directly with children. We are very regretful that this happened.”