A former Madison Southern High School teacher and assistant football coach pleaded guilty Thursday to sending sexually explicit text messages and e-mails to a 17-year-old student.

Joey Tate, 33, was arrested in Sept. 18, 2010, for attempting to entice a student he was teaching to engage in sexual activity, according to the arrest warrant.

He also was accused of making sexual contact with the student “when he rubbed her thigh and grabbed her butt while he was in the classroom alone with her,” the warrant said. “He also sent sexually explicit messages to other female students.”

He originally was charged with first-degree sexual abuse, multiple counts of tampering with a witness and using an electronic communications system to procure a minor for sex.

As part of Tate’s plea agreement, the sex abuse charge was dismissed, and three counts of witness tampering were merged into the charge of using an electronic communications system to procure a minor for sex.

Tate admitted Senior Judge Julia Adams during his hearing in Madison Circuit Court that he had formed a friendship with a student instead of a teacher-student relationship and he sent her text messages that contained “sexually suggestive song lyrics.”

“And the lyrics referred to intercourse?” Adams asked.

“Yes,” Tate answered.

The state is recommending a one-year sentence. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced on Nov. 10. In the mean time, he will undergo a sex offender evaluation.

As part of his sentence, Tate will be required to register as a sex offender for up to 20 years.

Bond restrictions on Tate, which forbid him from being in Madison County except for court appearances or to travel through the county for work purposes, and ban him from any school grounds, remain in place, Adams said.

The former teacher “made a series of very bad choices during a difficult time in his life,” said Jim Baecthold, Tate’s attorney. “Mr. Tate has taken responsibility for his actions and offers his sincerest apologies to the victim and her family.”

Lorie Love Hailey can be reached at editor@ richmondregister.com or 624-6690.


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