Update: Officer says teacher/student sex at SAHS was not coerced

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Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013

AIKEN, SC (WRDW) -- A South Aiken High School teacher and coach is behind bars at Aiken County Detention Center and is accused of having an ongoing physical relationship with a student.

Aiken Public Safety Officers arrested 41-year-old Michael Paul Waters and has charged him with five counts of sexual battery with a student.
Lt. Mahoney with Aiken Public Safety says the sexual battery happened on and off campus.

"I didn't know anything like that would happen," says former student and South Aiken cheerleader Pinckney Watford. "It was horrible whenever I first saw it, because I just know that he comes from a good family and has an amazing wife and kids."

Public Safety cannot say that the sex acts, that according to an incident report started in September, were consensual, because Lt. Jake Mahoney says legally the student couldn't consent.

However, by law, sexual battery with a student, S.C. Code of Laws, Section 16-3-755(B), means there was no aggravated force, no aggravated coercion, and the victim with either 16 or 17 years old.

The law defines sexual battery as "sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any object into the genital or anal openings of another person's body, except when such intrusion is accomplished for medically recognized treatment or diagnostic purposes."

Investigators say the crimes allegedly happened while Waters was employed as a geography and economics teacher and coach at South Aiken High. Waters school biography says he coached boy's soccer and was an assistant football coach.

Other students who News 12 talked to say Water's previously coached and taught at Williston-Elko High School.

"I mean, he's older. He's, you know, 41. He should have been more responsible than she was. I mean, I'm not taking more blame on him than her, but he is the adult, and he should have known a whole lot better than what he got caught up in," says Mark Cobb, a former soccer player at Williston-Elko. "You know, he was more of a friend and more of a mentor than anything else."

Though Watford was on the cheerleading squad, she says she never noticed any unprofessional behavior from Waters.

"I've never had a situation with him. I haven't even ever heard of anything come from, well, cheerleaders at South Aiken," she says. "Even though I do not believe what he did was morally right, I think that people mess up. We are humans. We mess up everyday."

While News 12 has received multiple tips that Waters was involved in a similar incident in the past, so far, no evidence or paperwork has been discovered.

Bill Burkhalter, attorney for the Aiken County Public School District, had no data or information available. He says the district might not comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any previous disciplinary actions, since it might be exempt personnel information.

At last check, Waters is still behind bars at the Detention Center facing a $25,000 bond. Each count, all felonies, could carry five years each if Waters is convicted.


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