Gwinnett teacher arrested after alleged sexual relationship with student

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Gwinnett teacher arrested after alleged sexual relationship with student

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Therese Gunn (Credit: Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office)

Two weeks after police began investigating her alleged relationship with a student, a now-former Gwinnett County high school teacher has been charged with sexual assault.

Therese Gunn, 53, is the fourth Gwinnett County teacher to be arrested this school year on sexual misconduct charges. In addition to having an ongoing relationship with a 17-year-old male student, police said, she smoked marijuana with several students after inviting them to her home.

According to Gwinnett County police, Gunn, a teacher at South Gwinnett High School since 2002, began her illicit relationship in March. Sexual activity allegedly "occurred at the school, at the teacher's residence and at Lenora Park," police said.

The police investigation began April 20 after the student's mother reported the relationship to police. Gunn resigned the day before, officials said. She turned herself in Friday evening and was released Saturday on $21,700 bond, Gwinnett County jail records showed.

The detective assigned to the case "discovered that the teacher hosted a party at her home in Grayson," police said in a Monday morning news release. "During the party, the teacher allowed the 17-year-old and two other female students to smoke marijuana under her direct supervision.  According to the detective, the teacher smoked marijuana as well."

Under Georgia law, sexual contact between anyone with supervisory or disciplinary authority — such as a law enforcement officer, teacher or psychiatrist — and a person under their care is illegal, even if it is consensual. In addition to sexual assault, Gunn was charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Those charges stem from the alleged marijuana incident, Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said.

"We take allegations like this very seriously, the safety of our students is a priority," Gwinnett County Public Schools spokesman Bernard Watson said in an email Monday. "When we learned about the allegations against Ms. Gunn, we investigated them immediately. During the course of that investigation, Ms. Gunn resigned. The matter is now in the hands of police and prosecutors and we are confident that the case will be handled in the appropriate manner."

Three other GCPS teachers have been arrested on sex-related charges this school year.

In October, Summerour Middle School teacher James Buckland was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old student visiting from Norcross High. In March, Mill Creek High School teacher Julee Impara was arrested after allegedly engaging in a relationship with a 17-year-old male student. Last month, Michael Appelbaum, a band instructor at the prestigious Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology was accused of molesting two underage girls.

In neighboring Hall County, West Hall boys basketball coach Zac Swansey, a former University of Georgia and Dunwoody High player, has been fired after an investigation into an inappropriate relationship with a female student at the school, a Gainesville newspaper reported Monday.

--Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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