Former Petal teacher charged with child exploitation, touching child for lustful purposes

Former Petal teacher charged with child exploitation, touching child for lustful purposes
Christopher Thames was charged with exploitation of a child and touching a child for lustful purposes. (Source: Forrest County Jail)

PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - A former Petal High School teacher was charged Friday with exploitation of a child and touching a child for lustful purposes after an investigation into inappropriate communication between him and a student.

Christopher Thames, 27, was previously dismissed as a Petal School District employee after alleged misconduct with a student.

Christopher Thames was a first-year teacher at Petal High School.
Christopher Thames was a first-year teacher at Petal High School. (Source: Forrest County Jail)

Petal School District Superintendent Matt Dillon said the administration was alerted of the allegations and began investigating possible inappropriate social media communication between Thames and a student. The Petal School District Police and Petal Police Department joined in the investigation.

According to Dillon, Thames was a first-year employee of the district.

Dillon released the following statement on Jan. 31 after the allegations were made:

Petal High School Administrators were made aware of alleged inappropriate social media communications between a student and employee. An immediate investigation was initiated into the allegations. Additionally, an investigation is being conducted by the Petal School Police Department in conjunction with the Petal Police Department.

The employee in question no longer works for the Petal School District. Since this is an ongoing investigation and a personnel matter, further details cannot be released.

Our faculty/staff are held to a very high standard. Anytime inappropriate behaviors are suspected or reported, they are investigated fully and appropriate actions are taken. Our top priority continues to be the well-being of our students and staff.

We encourage any students or parents to report any suspected inappropriate behavior to district personnel or through our anonymous texting service (601.300.6336) and anonymous suggestion box (suggestion.box@petalschools.com).

Thames had his bond set at $200,000.

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