MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A former Memphis-Shelby County School (MSCS) teacher is in jail under a $10 million bond, charged with sex crimes involving a minor
MSCS confirmed late Thursday afternoon that Joseph Blodgett worked at Oakhaven Middle School and Wells Station Elementary until last May. According to his indictments, Blodgett coerced a minor into sex acts between October 2020 and May 2022 and was found with more than 100 materials depicting those sex acts.
“I was not aware of that,” Tiffany Cowan, an Oakhaven parent said of the charges. “It’s kind of shocking to think that you send your kids to school for protection and to keep them away from stuff like this.”
Cowan said her children have attended Kindergarten through 12th grade at Oakhaven Elementary, Middle and High Schools. She showed FOX13 the many calls and texts she receives from the district about her students and questioned why she wasn’t informed about the situation earlier.
“They text all day long, they call all day long about the tutoring programs and other stuff the school offers, but for them not to call about the situation with one of the teachers, I don’t think that’s right,” she said.
According to records, Joseph Blodgett was arrested Saturday after being indicted for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor and extortion.
Cowan and other parents questioned how MSCS could have hired a teacher capable of such actions.
“I don’t like it. I don’t think any adult has the right or the authority,” Anthony Brooks, an Oakhaven parent, said. “He shouldn’t be allowed to teach school or be around kids in this kind of setting if he’s displaying that kind of behavior.”
In a statement, MSCS said Blodgett passed a background check and all other requirements before being hired.
Though many parents were shocked, some students told FOX13 off-camera that they were aware of the situation with Blodgett as early as last year. One former student, who requested not to be named, said the incident is just a part of a pattern of abuse at MSCS.
He said his own sister was molested by a teacher in 1996.
“It’s been going on with students and teachers, but people just sweep it under the rug,” he said. “It’s terrifying. It’s really terrifying, man.”
Bludgett is due in court Tuesday. In the meantime, the district said it is offering resources for families.
Memphis-Shelby County Schools released the statement about the former teacher:
“We have received confirmation from local law enforcement that a former Oakhaven Middle and Wells Station Elementary school teacher was indicted on crimes against children. Our hearts go out to any child and family who may be impacted. His alleged conduct violates a sacred trust, and we share the community’s outrage and disdain.
The teacher’s employment with the District ended in May 2022. Prior to joining the District, he cleared a background check and all policy, legal, and statutory requirements for hiring. We know that our community has many additional questions, but laws and policies prevent us from sharing details on matters of this nature regarding children. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and have important conversations about online safeguards and trauma-informed care.
We are deploying all available resources to ensure that families have the support they need to heal. At this moment, that is where we turn our focus – rallying around our children, supporting their families, and praying for healing across our county, city, and district.”
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