GONZALES — An Iberia Parish high school band director was arrested Wednesday in Ascension Parish after he was found hiding in a 16-year-old girl’s closet, prompting a separate investigation by the public school system in Acadiana, authorities said Thursday.
Lt. Col. Bobby Webre, of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday that detectives began investigating Jeremy Conner, 30, on April 8 over the closet incident that occurred at the girl’s home and learned he also had been communicating with the teen since last year.
Conner told sheriff’s deputies he sent inappropriate cellphone text messages to the girl, Webre said in a news release.
Conner lives in Baton Rouge but has worked at Westgate High School in New Iberia since July 2014. He resigned as band director of North Banks Middle School in East Baton Rouge Parish in May 2014.
His departure came 11 days after his arrest on a felony aggravated battery count from an incident with a male student at the middle school, court records say.
Conner, whom Baton Rouge prosecutors never charged in that incident, did not tell Iberia Parish school officials he had been arrested in the latest incident with the girl in Ascension. Instead, Conner told Iberia Parish district officials he would be late for school Wednesday morning, according to KATC-TV.
Iberia Parish school system Superintendent Dale R. Henderson said the district found out about Conner’s arrest at 2:30 p.m. Thursday when his office received an Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office news release.
Henderson said Conner has still not contacted Westgate High, and his current status is absent without leave, according to a district news release.
The girl involved in the incident with Conner is not a Westgate High nor Iberia Parish school student, Henderson said.
Conner was arrested May 12, 2014, on a count of aggravated battery after he was accused of throwing a chair at a 14-year-old North Banks Middle School student, cutting the boy’s left arm, according to a East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office report.
The student asked to use Conner’s cellphone to play a game but began taking pictures with the phone, the report says.
“The victim then advised Conner became angry that he had his phone, and threw a chair at him, which struck his left arm,” the report says.
Conner disputed the allegation and claimed the student was scratched on the arm as Conner was trying to put a chair back under his desk, and the bottom of the chair dislodged and hit the student.
The East Baton Rouge Parish school district reported that Conner resigned May 23, 2014, after he got “other employment.”
Prosecutors in Baton Rouge chose three months after he started at Westgate not to charge Conner with the aggravated battery count after he completed a pretrial intervention program, court minutes say.
Henderson, the Iberia superintendent, said he has ordered his staff to conduct an investigation immediately into the incident and plans to meet with high school parents to let them know that another band director will be in place for a competition April 20, according to the district news release.
Conner, 12625 Coursey Blvd., Baton Rouge, was booked Wednesday into Ascension Parish Prison near Donaldsonville on a count of indecent behavior with a juvenile, Webre said.
Conner was released on $50,000 bail Thursday, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The case is still under investigation, and more charges are possible, Webre said.