Three Parkview High School teachers went to court Wednesday intending to vouch for a former colleague accused of sexually assaulting a student. They don’t speak for Parkview or Gwinnett County Public Schools, a district spokeswoman said.
“It is a personal decision and they are speaking as an individual,” Sloan Roach said in an emailed statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The teachers were among 13 people who hoped to serve as character witnesses for Michael “Mikey” Henderson, who resigned from his teaching job at Parkview shortly before he was charged with sexual assault May 19. Henderson admitted to authorities and school officials he had a sexual relationship with the student for more than two years, police said.
English teacher Mike Demarest, math teacher Cynthia Cooper and assistant varsity football coach and heath/PE teacher Willis Sudderth attended the hearing where Henderson was granted $25,000 bond. They intended to vouch for Henderson’s character and connection to the community, defense attorney Jared Mitnick said in court. Only two people, Demarest and Henderson’s high school football coach David Snell, who is still at Buford High, were permitted to speak.
Demarest described Henderson as “one of the more selfless employees at Parkview High School” and someone who would go out of the way to help teachers and students. Demarest said he was unaware of a relationship between Henderson and the student.
There is no Gwinnett County Public Schools policy regarding teachers speaking in court when a criminal case involves a teacher or student, Roach said.
Henderson has been released from jail and is not allowed to enter any Gwinnett County school.
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