A 47-year-old principal at a Christian private school in Tennessee was arrested for the second time in less than a year over allegations that he engaged in illegal sexual activity with multiple minors. Jason Kennedy was taken into custody last week and charged with four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child, one count of aggravated sexual battery, and one count of solicitation of a minor to observe sexual conduct, records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
Kennedy was the principal and a teacher at Liberty Christian School when he was initially arrested in August and charged with two counts of sexual assault by an authority figure and one count of solicitation of a minor.
Brittney Branham, a 28-year-old secretary and homeschool coordinator at Liberty, was also arrested in August and charged with one count of solicitation of a minor in connection with the same series of incidents that allegedly took place inside Kennedy’s home, where Branham was also a resident, according to a report from Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR-TV.
The August arrests reportedly stemmed from incidents involving a single minor female victim who was previously a student at Liberty, Stephen Crump, the district attorney for the state’s Tenth Judicial District, told WBIR in August. At that point, Crump noted that there was only one alleged victim, but said that authorities were “continuing the investigation” as it was possible that there may be other victims.
Crump on Friday reportedly told Chattanooga Fox affiliate WTVC that the latest charges filed against Kennedy stem from his alleged conduct with three additional victims.
The first victim was 19 when she came forward last year and told authorities that she was a minor when the alleged incidents took place, according to sworn arrest affidavits from the McMinn County Sheriff’s Department obtained by Fox News.
In those documents, investigators reportedly wrote that the victim on multiple occasions spent the night at Kennedy’s home in Athens, Tennessee, where he lived with Branham and his wife. The victim told authorities she would stay in the same room as Branham and that Kennedy often came into the bedroom and the three would “talk about sex.”
Branham allegedly encouraged the victim to let Kennedy touch her inappropriately, but also warned her to keep it a secret so the two adults would not get in trouble, according to the report.
Kennedy and Branham in August 2020 allegedly purchased the victim a “skimpy night gown,” the victim reportedly told authorities. Around that time, the victim claimed she was spending the night in the room with Branham when Kennedy came in and allegedly touched her breast.
According to the affidavit, the victim was again staying in the room with Branham in early 2021 when Kennedy came in and started discussing sex. The victim reportedly claimed that both Kennedy and Branham then masturbated in front of her while urging the victim to do the same. Following the incident, Braham and Kennedy acted “like nothing had happened” and “began talking like normal,” the affidavit reportedly said.
The school, the sheriff’s department, and the district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to messages from Law&Crime.
Kennedy is currently being held in McMinn County Jail on $400,000 bond.
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