A Missouri middle school teacher and coach was arrested Tuesday for allegedly having oral sex with a female student at a local high school 17 years ago.
James Bliss Wilder III, 47, who has taught physical education for 20 years at Sperreng Middle School in Sappington, Mo., was arrested on six counts of second-degree statutory sodomy for allegedly having oral sex with a 16-year-old student between Aug. 1, 1996, and Sept. 21, 1997, the St. Louis Dispatch reports.
At the time, the victim was a sophomore at Lindbergh High School and a member of the school’s cross country team, which Wilder coached and continues to coach today, KMOV reports. Court documents say Wilder had oral sex on six occasions with the victim, including several times on school property.
On Wednesday, the school sent out a letter to parents saying Wilder will be placed on administrative leave and continue to collect a paycheck until police finish their investigation of him.
“We are troubled and disturbed when we receive allegations such as this,” Beth Johnston, director of community relations for the Lindbergh School District, said. “We want our parents to know we’ll do whatever we can to cooperate with police.”
Ths isn't the first such arrest for Wilder. In 2008, he was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting another female student, but charges were never filed in that case. A woman claiming to be the plaintiff in that case said the sexual relationship with Wilder lasted 15 years, despite the fact that he was married and (later) so was she, Fox 2 reports.
In Missouri, second-degree statutory sodomy involves someone over 21 engaging in deviate sexual intercourse with a person younger than 17. The Class C felony is punishable with up to seven years in prison. If the victim was younger than 18, prosecution must start within 30 years after the victim turns 18.
On Wednesday, Wilder’s bond was set at $50,000, cash only.