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— The jury trial for a former teacher accused of hav

ing sexual contact with a student has been rescheduled.

Thomas Hayden McDonald is charged with sexual assault in

the second degree, a class B felony punishable with a prison sen

tence ranging from five to 20 years.

His jury trial, set to start today, was rescheduled for Sept. 10.

McDonald is a former teacher for the Seventh-day Adventist

Academy in Gentry. He was arrested Dec. 4, 2008.

According to an affidavit of probable cause in the case, Gentry police officer Rick Lane received a sexual-assault complaint from Academy Vice Principal Toakase Vunileva, who reported a female student had approached a staff member about another student who had been sexually involved with a teacher. The student identified the teacher as McDonald, according to court documents.

The affidavit reports that Vunileva and the academy principal met with McDonald, who said some inappropriate action had taken place in his office, court documents state. When questioned by Lane, McDonald said he and the student had been textmessaging each other, and the messages got more personal as time went along, the affidavit states. McDonald claimed the girlsent him some pictures of her wearing a hooded shirt and thong with her back facing the camera, court documents state.

McDonald claimed that on Nov. 25, 2008, he and the girl went to his office for her to take a test. McDonald said inappropriate actions occurred in the office, the affidavit reflects. McDonald told the officer kissing and touching had occurred, but there was no sexual intercourse, according to court documents.

The girl was interviewed at the Children's Advocacy Center of Benton County. She described engaging in sexual contact with McDonald, the affidavit states.

McDonald was released from the Benton County Jail after posting $5,000 bond.

For The Record, Pages 4 on 08/19/2009

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