On Feb. 20, John Daniel Hamilton, a teacher at Central Baldwin Middle School, was arrested for inappropriate contact with a student.
Hamilton was arrested on two counts of second degree sodomy, two counts of second degree sexual abuse, two counts of a school employee engaging in a sex act with a student under 19 and two counts of a school employee having sexual contact with a student under 19.
Hamilton is a history teacher and bus driver who had been employed with the Baldwin County School System since 2003, but was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 5.
Law enforcement officials said they became aware of a potential issue with Hamilton on Feb. 5, when the Baldwin County School System reported the issue to the Robertsdale Police Department.
“The Robertsdale Police Department was notified of a situation and some allegations of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student at Central Baldwin Middle School,” Lt. Rex Bishop said. “We began our investigation, which is still ongoing, and that investigation did turn up and develop into probable cause for an arrest.”
Baldwin County District Attorney Bob Wilters said all of the charges against Hamilton derived from actions taken at the school. Wilters added that there may be additional victims in this case.
“There is some concern there may be additional victims,” Wilters said. “We hope if there are that they will come forward.”
Wilters said the incidents came to light when a student came forward and reported the actions to a teacher.
“Evidence came to a teacher through another student and that teacher did the appropriate thing and contacted people within the school system, and then the system contacted Robertsdale Police,” Wilters said.
Wilters said the alleged incidents involving the student, a young girl, took place during school hours and in the teacher’s classroom.
Wilters added that it appears there was contact between Hamilton and the alleged victim outside of the school and that the alleged incidents occurred possibly 2.5 months before authorities became aware of the issue.
Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler was visibly upset during a press conference held in Robertsdale about the arrest, praising the work of law enforcement officials and saying he hoped the harshest consequences under the law would be used in this situation.
“I appreciate the diligent work of the Robertsdale Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office,” Tyler said. “I say again, we have zero tolerance for anyone who preys on children – an individual found guilty of such a heinous crime should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I am just at a loss how anyone, anyone can harm a child. All of the things we see on the national and local news make me ask, where is our moral compass? As educators, we are entrusted with the lives of young people every day and our employees accept that honor and privilege very seriously. All of our employees are background checked, but that is no predictor of future behavior. Those who are convicted of these despicable crimes against students deserve swift and the harshest consequences possible under the law.”
Assistant District Attorney Matt Simpson, who handles child sex crimes for the DA’s office, said he felt it was important for parents to have conversations with their children about incidents like this and said the investigation has remained a priority for his office.
“We have not stopped since we became aware of this,” Simpson said. “This is a priority investigation. We want to make sure we get the right thing done.”