Justin Curtis Grindstaff

By Keeli Parkey

A Unicoi County School System employee has been charged with two counts of statutory rape by an authority figure for his alleged sexual relationship with a 16-year-old Unicoi County High School student.

According to Erwin Police Chief Regan Tilson, the man Justin Curtis Grindstaff, 35, of Elizabethton, worked as a substitute teacher and drum instructor for the high school band.

“On Aug. 9, the Erwin Police Department received information that there was an inappropriate relationship between a 16-year-old female student and a 35-year-old male substitute teacher/drum instructor,” Tilson said. “An investigation was initiated by the Erwin Police Department and Unicoi County Director of Schools John English and high school principal Chris Bogart were contacted for notification and assistance in the investigation. During the course of the investigation on Aug. 10 information was gathered to confirm the relationship.”

Tilson said Grindstaff was interviewed on Aug. 10. After he was mirandized, Grindstaff “admitted to having a relationship with the juvenile student to include sexual contact,” Tilson also said.

Grindstaff was arrested on Aug. 10.

English told The Erwin Record that Grindstaff’s employment with the system was “immediately terminated upon learning details about the investigation.”

English also said the school system is providing support to students.

“These events will certainly impact our school and community,” English said. “The school will offer counseling to any students who feel it is necessary.

“Out of respect for the people involved in this matter and their families, the Unicoi County Board of Education and its administration will have no further comment. We urge members of the school community to refrain from gossiping or speculating since doing so could hurt innocent people and compromise any law enforcement investigation.”

For a full story, pick up a copy of the Aug. 16 issue of The Erwin Record.