GEORGETOWN — A Scott County middle school teacher pleaded not guilty to dozens of child pornography charges and charges that he engaged in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl.
Jason Alan Carpenter, wearing a blazer over a white shirt, was arraigned Tuesday in Scott District Court.
Carpenter, 38, waived his right to a preliminary hearing, which would determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with the case. The case will be submitted directly to a grand jury, which will decide whether to indict him.
Judge Mary Jane Phelps ruled that Carpenter could remain free on bond for the time being as long as he doesn't violate the law and has no contact with his accuser.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Carpenter was released from jail Aug. 19, two days after he was arrested, when his parents paid a $100,000 bond, jail officials have said. On Tuesday, Carpenter's attorney asked that the money be refunded and the parents put up their home as a property bond instead.
Carpenter faces 23 counts of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor, 23 counts of promoting a sexual performance by a minor and 36 counts of first-degree sexual abuse.
Police said Carpenter had sex with his accuser 36 times beginning in 2009, when the girl was 16. She is now 18, according to court documents.
Carpenter was the Scott County High School girls golf coach before resigning from that position in July. He was suspended by Scott County schools on Aug. 3, two weeks before his arrest.
Carpenter, who has taught at the middle school for 16 years, has been on paid leave with the school while it conducts its investigation, officials said.
Two days after he was suspended, Carpenter's wife, Stacey Carpenter, filed for divorce because "the marriage is irretrievably broken," according to a petition for dissolution of marriage filed in Scott Circuit Court. The couple have been separated since July, the document said.
Stacey Carpenter later filed an emergency order requesting temporary sole custody of their 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter because Jason Carpenter was jailed and not working, and he was "unwilling to provide any financial support for the children."
The affidavit lists all of Jason Carpenter's charges and says he does not have the ability or is unwilling to co-parent the children because of his "reckless and criminal activity over the past five years involving the alleged victim," the document said. Police have said the relationship went on for two years.
Scott County School Superintendent Patricia Putty did not return a message seeking comment on the investigation. Carpenter's attorney, William Scoville of London, told the judge that Carpenter is suspended with pay pending the investigation.
Carpenter ignored reporters gathered outside the courtroom before and after the hearing. Scoville declined to comment because it was too early in the case.
"When the case is over or at the appropriate time, I will comment," he said.