This is Hodge’s second serious brush with the law since 2008.
Hodge, 42, who is married, was arrested Friday on two felony counts of sexual assault by an authority figure, Walker County sheriff Steve Wilson said Monday.
Two sexual encounters, both consensual, allegedly occurred with a 17-year-old LaFayette High student in December on private property, Wilson said. Neither incident occurred on school property. Wilson said he is not releasing specifics on the location.
“There were several pieces of evidence that led to the allegation and then to the arrest,” Wilson said.
The sheriff’s department was summoned to LaFayette High School Friday evening as a result of the school system’s internal investigation, which concluded that Hodge had committed a crime.
Wilson would not say if Hodge confessed to the allegations, but stated it will be an “open and ongoing investigation.”
Hodge was arrested at the school administrator’s office around 8 p.m. and released from jail on a $5,000 bond.
The charges carry a one- to 25-year jail sentence and/or a fine up to $100,000. He would also have to register as a sex offender if convicted, according to Wilson.
The matter is considered a “very serious infraction” by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, according to Paul Shaw, director of educator ethics at the commission.
“First and foremost, we are concerned about the safety of students,” Shaw said regarding sexual misconduct of teachers.
Based on previous ethics cases with similar charges, Shaw believes that “it would be a revocation, is what would be the recommendation to the commission,” regarding a teaching license, if Hodge is proven to have had sex with a 17-year-old student.
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission sets and applies guidelines for the preparation, certification, and continued licensing of public educators.
Walker County superintendent of schools Damon Raines on Monday issued a prepared statement.
"An immediate investigation ensued following current school system protocols,” the statement said. “The school counselor made a referral to the Department of Family and Child Services for their involvement and then law enforcement was contacted.”
Hodge resigned as a result of the investigation, according to Raines.
In October 2008 Hodge, along with two other coaches and a fourth person, was charged with having alcohol on school grounds at a football game at Southeast Whitfield High School. Whitfield sheriff’s deputies took the three coaches into custody after the men agreed to a breath test that determined they were at the game, in the press box, under the influence of alcohol.
The charge listed on the arrest report was “possession of alcohol.” The Whitfield County district attorney’s office determined that to be “an improper interpretation of the law.” “If that were the case, we may be arresting nearly half of the people at some sporting events,” Whitfield County district attorney Kermit McManus said at the time. The DA’s office dismissed the charge in January 2009 due to lack of evidence.
Hodge is a 1989 graduate of LaFayette High School in Walker County. After college, he became an assistant basketball and football coach at LaFayette High. After that, he briefly coached middle school basketball in Murray County. Then he became the assistant girls' basketball coach at Ridgeland High School in Walker County, where he took over the coaching position in May 2003. He then returned to LaFayette High and was an assistant girls' basketball coach during the 2011-12 school year. He also coached golf that year. He was not a coach this year.