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Former Dobyns-Bennett teacher indicted on statutory rape charge

BECKY CAMPBELL • Feb 28, 2007 at 8:36 AM

KINGSPORT - The former Dobyns-Bennett High School Spanish teacher charged with having sex with a student was indicted by a Sullivan County grand jury Wednesday.

Gabriel "Gabe" Sanchez, 31, was indicted on one count of statutory rape and one count of sexual battery by an authority figure. The charges stem from two separate incidents.

The alleged sexual encounters happened around May 27 after school was out for the summer.

During a preliminary hearing in October, the victim, who had turned 18 in June, testified that Sanchez was her Spanish I teacher in the fall 2005 semester and had made a sexual comment during that school term.

The two apparently talked often in the spring 2006 semester, although the girl was not in one of Sanchez's classes then.

After school dismissed for the summer, the two had their first sexual encounter, the girl testified. It occurred in Sanchez's car after they met and drove around, she said.

The teen testified that she could no longer remember where they met, where they went or the exact date.

While the girl's memory seemed to have faded about the encounter, a Kingsport Police Department detective testified that the girl told her that she met Sanchez in the Walgreens parking lot at Stone and Fairview on May 25, then they drove toward Wal-Mart and turned right on a road that was level.

KPD Detective Melanie Adkins said based on the teen's description of the route and her own knowledge of the streets between Walgreens and Wal-Mart, she believed Sanchez drove down Cloud's Ford Road.

A second encounter allegedly occurred May 27 when Sanchez picked the girl up at her house and they drove to "a grassy hill," according to Adkins. The girl told police that they kissed and fondled each other.

When the allegations became known, Sanchez was suspended from his teaching job with the city.

Sanchez is free on bond and is scheduled for arraignment on the charges March 30.

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