LaGrange Coach Charged With Indecent Behavior With Student - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

LaGrange Coach Charged With Indecent Behavior With Student

May 17, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck

Smith has been an educator for more than 20 years, the last four at LaGrange high school... And according to investigators he had more on his mind than teaching.

Clifford Wayne Smith: He's LaGrange High School's world geography teacher, girl's softball coach and assistant football coach. He may soon be adding sex offender to his resume after allegedly giving a 15-year-old female student a letter containing inappropriate sexual comments on Tuesday.

"We were notified by the Calcasieu School Board officials and upon investigation and getting some of the evidence they presented to us we were able to make an arrest," said Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso.  

Sheriff Mancuso says 55-year-old Smith was arrested Wednesday night and charged with one count of indecent behavior with a juvenile. So far, Smith has been cooperating with investigators. "He admitted to writing the letter to the young girl," said Mancuso.  

According to investigators smith has been teaching for more than 20 years, the last four at LaGrange High School. Many of his students find the allegations hard to believe.

"Coach Smith? I would never think he would do something like that," said sophomore Whitney Duncan.  

"Yeah, I'm surprised. I mean, I know things happen in our school, but I didn't think nothing like that," said sophomore D'Juan Joseph.  

"I was shocked. I couldn't believe that it happened because he's not that kind of person," said graduating senior Jessica Bowman.  

Bowman is one of Coach Smith's former students. She says Smith is a family friend and has never acted inappropriately in front of her.

"I've seen him outside of school. I know his daughter, I know his wife... He seems like family to me. I can't see him doing this. I can't, but they're saying he admitted to it, but I still can't believe it in my mind," said Bowman.  

However, not everyone is shocked. Sophomore Jerlisa Harrison had Smith last year for world  geography and says she saw a totally different side.

Lee Peck: "Are you shocked that he's accused of something like this?"

Harrison: "Not really. Because I've seen him looking at other girls in the wrong way that a teacher shouldn't be looking at them. And that's why I'm not surprised."

As of Thursday night Smith was still behind bars. His bond is set at $75,000 and will not be effective until 48 hours after his incarceration -- meaning the earliest he will be able to bond out is 6:30 Friday evening.

Meanwhile the Calcasieu Parish School Board declined to go on camera about this story, but did release this statement. "As a result of an internal investigation coordinated with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, the Calcasieu Parish School System has suspended an employee for alleged improprieties. The school district is preparing the necessary documents to proceed according to the laws as it relates to the employee's status."

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