By Curt Yeomans
DeKalb County teacher Charles Thomas McClendon was arrested in a parking lot behind a Mexican restaurant in Clayton County early Thursday morning, when a Jonesboro police officer caught him allegedly preparing to have sex with a 15-year-old, former student.
Online court records for the Clayton County Magistrate Court show that McClendon is facing charges of child molestation and enticing a child for indecent purposes.
McClendon, 29, is a resident of Decatur, and an eighth-grade math teacher at DeKalb County's Stone Mountain Middle School, where he was the student's math tutor last year when she attended the school, according to Jonesboro Police Major Tim Jessup.
McClendon and the youth told police they were dating, Jessup said.
"At 15, it's bad enough, but to be a teacher -- it's someone you're supposed to trust more than anyone else," Jessup said, later adding, "I don't understand it, because he's 29 years old. But these things happen, unfortunately."
McClendon is scheduled to have his first appearance hearing before a magistrate judge today at 10 a.m., in courtroom 204, at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center, 9151 Tara Boulevard, in Jonesboro.
Jonesboro Police Sgt. Eric Bradshaw discovered McClendon and the teen in the teacher's 2005, gold, Ford F-150 pick-p truck at 2:20 a.m., on Thursday, after the officer noticed a pair of parking lights were shining behind the El Tarasco Mexican Restaurant (which is at 121 Jonesboro Road), Jessup said.
Bradshaw pulled behind the restaurant and found McClendon allegedly climbing out of the back seat of the truck and moving toward the driver's side door while trying to put his pants on, Jessup said. As McClendon was getting out of the back seat, though, his pants fell down and he was allegedly tossing aside a condom, Jessup said.
"They were getting ready to do the ... If Sgt. Bradshaw had gotten there five minutes later, he would have caught them in the act," Jessup said.
Bradshaw blocked McClendon's path out of El Tarasco's parking lot, and the officer then approached the truck and began questioning the middle school teacher and his young companion about why they were behind the restaurant. McClendon, allegedly, quickly admitted he and the girl were about to have sex, but he could not initially tell Bradshaw the youth's last name, the officer wrote in his police report.
After McClendon and the 15-year old allegedly told Bradshaw they were dating, the sergeant and other officers separated the pair for further questioning. McClendon told Bradshaw, "I met her at school and we've been dating for a few months," according to the police report.
Bradshaw then went over to the youth to ask her about her relationship with McClendon.
"She said she met him in the mall, and they have been dating for a few years," Bradshaw said in his written report. "That's what tipped him off - the conflicting stories," Jessup said. "When you separate them like that, little red lights go off."
In his report, Bradshaw said the youth initially told him she was 18, but upon further questioning, admitted her true age.
"When she realized she could not easily explain her way out of this, she 'fessed up' and admitted she was really 15," Jessup said. "She admitted she was 15 years old, and that Mr. McClendon was her [tutor] at Stone Mountain Middle School, where she went last year," Bradshaw said in his report. "She advised that he taught her math, and that's how she knew him."
Among the evidence collected from McClendon's truck, according to the police report, were the condom McClendon allegedly attempted to discard, and his underwear, which was found on the floor in the back of his truck. A Cobra 9 millimeter handgun was also found in the truck and "placed into property for safe keeping," according to the report.
McClendon was in the Clayton County Jail on Thursday night, Clayton County Sheriff's Office spokesperson, Sgt. Sonja Sanchez, said. The youth was picked up at Jonesboro Police Department Headquarters by her mother.
DeKalb County Schools Spokesman Dale Davis said McClendon had just completed his first year with DeKalb County Schools, and that the school system is treating the incident as a "personnel matter." Davis said he could not confirm if the math teacher was still employed by the school district.
When asked if DeKalb County Schools was going to contact parents of Stone Mountain Middle School students about the incident, Davis said: "I'm pretty sure that once they see the reports on TV [Thursday night], they'll know what happened." When pressed further about contacting parents, Davis said DeKalb County Schools officials could not do so, because students are not in school. "We're on summer break," he said.