Former Forest High School secretary chargedBy DUSTIN WHITLOCK,
Forest High graduate and former front-office secretary, Heather Hanks Hollingsworth was released from her position on Sept. 1 and later arrested following allegations of inappropriate contact via digital media with a student under the age of 18.
“Dissemination of sexually oriented materials to a person under the age of 18,” is how Forest Police Chief Will Jones described the charge.
Whether the materials in question were purely textual or if they included images could not be confirmed as the case is pending. The charge at this time is singular. The charge is a misdemeanor offense which means the case will be heard in municipal court and will not include a jury.
Forest Superintendent of Education Dr. Joseph White said that he learned of the allegations at about 1:30 p.m. on Friday, September 1. White said that the school gathered their evidence, released Hollingsworth, and escorted her off campus.
White said, “My responsibility as Superintendent is to follow policy, and whenever our codes are violated, respond quickly in the handling of the issues.”
White said that the school’s jurisdiction in the case ended with the termination of the defendant.
Being a non-license employee, White said that the Mississippi Department of Education did not have to be contacted before the termination.
Hollingsworth appeared in court on Wednesday, September 13 and was presented with the charge. Judge Norman Brown will preside over the case. City attorney, Evan Thompson will serve as the prosecutor in the case.
A continuance was granted to the defendant to permit her to seek legal council. The court is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, September 20 unless the defense attorney requests more time to prepare for the case.