• September 30, 2022

Gun-Dealing Teacher Runs Sex-For-Grades Scheme With Students; School System Failed To Catch Criminal Past

Ann didn’t know anything about her freshman history teacher’s checkered past – his convictions for domestic violence and illegal gun sales – when she started hearing rumors about his relationships with female students.

“He kind of liked to dance around the classroom,” she said. “My friends told me to have my boyfriend walk me to his class.”

Ann, who did not use her real name for this story, said the teacher focused on the girls in the class, flirting and joking during school.

In December 2013, that teacher, 41-year-old Phillip Smith III, turned his attention to 14-year-old Ann, a freshman at Huffman High School in Birmingham. During a test, he pulled her desk close to his and addressed the class.

“He told everyone to keep their eyes on their paper,” Ann said. “He said, ‘If you look up, then I know you’re cheating.'”

A few minutes later, he returned with a note written in red ink that he slid onto her desk.

“Since you think you got it like that, come to my class seventh block, and pull down your pants and let me kiss your … it said the a-word” Ann recalled of the note. Smith offered to change her grade to an A or B.

Then he picked up the note, shredded it and tossed it in the trash can.

“I just kind of froze,” Ann said.

As she left the classroom, Smith leaned toward her and whispered, “You scared,” Ann said.

Ann panicked, and did not return later that day. Instead, she reported her teacher, who was ultimately caught sexually abusing another 14-year-old student and charged under Alabama’s sodomy and teacher sex laws.

She would come to find out that it wasn’t the first time Smith had gotten in trouble for dirty deals.

In 2002, Smith pled guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence and in 2004, he was convicted of dealing guns in a federal case investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. At the time, he was teaching social studies at Wenonah High School.

Shockingly, a spokesman for Birmingham City Schools said the district never learned about his gun conviction, even though he took a seven-month leave of absence in 2006 and 2007 to serve his sentence in federal prison.

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