UPDATE: Vandergriff will not answer questions, JCSD says

Where is Dean Vandergriff
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

TUCKERMAN, AR (KAIT) - Nov. 1 UPDATE: A man being investigated for allegations of sexual assault, has said he has been advised by his attorneys not to answer questions involving the case, Jackson County authorities said Tuesday.

Jackson County deputies had been trying to contact Dean Vandergriff, a teacher at Tuckerman High School, about the allegations since last month. The allegations made against Vandergriff involve a Future Farmers of America convention in Indianapolis, officials have said.

Vandergriff was suspended from his job with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Oct 28 UPDATE:  Captain Ricky Morales with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department said they have not been able to talk to Dean Vandergriff about the allegations against him.

Morales said they have reached out to him multiple times but have not heard back from him.

He said they have not arrested Vandergriff yet because they are still working on the investigation.

"He's still presumed innocent," Morales said. "We want to give everybody the fair chance of putting their story out there. Everybody deserves that chance. We just can't go off of what somebody says, we have to have corroborating evidence."

Only one victim has come forward who told investigators something happened on the Jackson County School District campus.

Morales was unable to explain the details of the allegations.

Jackson County School District Superintendent Chester Shannon said Vandergriff did send an email saying he would not respond to the district.

Shannon said attorneys for the school are drafting a letter to Vandergriff but was unable to explain what the letter would say.

Morales said they are still working to talk to witnesses and Vandergriff.

He said Vandergriff agreed to talk to them on Tuesday but never showed.

A teacher with the Jackson County School District has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation by the sheriff's department.

Superintendent Chester Shannon confirmed Tuesday the suspension of the school's agriculture teacher, Dean Vandergriff.

The alleged incident occurred while Vandergriff accompanied a group of students to the National Future Farmers of America Convention in Indianapolis.

Captain Ricky Morales with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department says Dean Vandergriff is accused of sexual assault.

Shannon said another female employee on the trip informed the high school principal about the incident who then called him the night of Oct. 19.

"I felt it was necessary to bring him home immediately," Shannon said.

The school district sent other chaperones to be with the students while Vandergriff returned to Arkansas.

By the morning of  Oct. 21, Shannon said Vandergriff was back from the trip.

Shannon said the details of the allegations were sickening.

"Nobody was physically harmed or hurt,' Shannon said. "I just felt the need to get somebody there as quickly as I could the next day. You know just to stabilize the situation."

He said Vandergriff would remain off the campus until the Jackson County Sheriff's Department completes its interviews and investigation.

Shannon explained placing Vandergriff on suspension with pay is standard until the allegations are proven to be true or false.

Morales said since the incident happened in Indianapolis, they had no jurisdiction but they have been investigating claims of separate incidents  that may have happened on campus.

"There's one sexual assault allegation so far," Morales said. "There's some complaints of some inappropriate conversations between the teacher and the students. Right now we're looking into all that."

Investigators are trying to contact Vandergriff to get his side of the story, Morales said. But, detectives have not heard from him.

The superintendent said he could not elaborate on what exactly happened due to legal constraints.

Before Vandergriff took the job at Tuckerman, he was an officer with Jonesboro police from March 2015 to early June 2016.

Region 8 News will have more information as details emerge. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

Watch Region 8 News On Demand: On your Desktop | On your Mobile device

Region 8 News App - Install or update on your: iPhone | Android