Former coach pleads guilty

Published 12:14 am Thursday, September 3, 2015

NATCHEZ — The former teacher accused of sexual battery in connection with an alleged inappropriate relationship with a student has pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Natchez police arrested Brett A. Hinson, 28, 2062 Viking St., Vidalia, on June 9, charging him with sexual battery following a complaint filed by the parents of a Cathedral High School student.

Hinson filed a petition to plead guilty to two counts of child fondling before Judge Forrest “Al” Johnson last week, the same day Hinson filed a waiver of the grand jury process.

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Hinson’s sentencing date has not yet been set, but District Attorney Ronnie Harper said it should be sometime later this month.

The agreement for Hinson to waive the grand jury proceedings and plead to the lesser charge — which was not accompanied with any plea deal — was done in consultation with the victim’s family, Harper said.

“These kinds of cases are very difficult, because you have to expose the child to the system, and so the family encouraged us to resolve this case, and it was done so to their satisfaction and approval,” he said.

“If we hadn’t, it would have involved having the child present for the grand jury, and sometimes those kinds of experiences can be more traumatizing than the actual offense.”

Hinson could face a sentence of two to 15 years for each count of fondling, as well as a fine of up to $5,000 for each count. He would also have to register as a sex offender under Mississippi law.

Hinson was the assistant football and baseball coach and physical education teacher at Cathedral until early June, when he resigned.

The victim’s parents filed the complaint after the student’s mother showed the father a photo of their daughter’s car parked at the Natchez City Cemetery along with another vehicle, the initial police report indicated.

The student reportedly told her parents the details after they confronted her about the matter, the report alleges. Hinson faces a similar charge in Vidalia, where an alleged incident in connection with the same case reportedly occurred.

He is set to appear before Louisiana’s Seventh Judicial District Court for arraignment in that matter Sept. 16.