Volunteer student arrested for unwanted hugging of cheerleader

Jeff Bobo • Nov 21, 2012 at 9:32 AM

CHURCH HILL — A Volunteer High School student who allegedly hugged a cheerleader to tears following a basketball game last week was arrested by the Church Hill police officer who witnessed the incident.

Tyler Huston Nelms, 18, 153 Hoard Lane, Lot 22, Church Hill, was charged with disorderly conduct Friday evening.

Director of Schools Charlotte Britton told the Times-News on Tuesday an internal school investigation is also under way.

Church Hill Police Department Officer Bryan Pellegrino worked security at the VHS basketball game Friday night. He stated in his report he had dealt with Nelms in the past, and during the game Nelms approached him and said he was going to get the phone number of a cheerleader.

Nelms had reportedly been warned on several occasions by Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Student Resource Officer Tony Spitzer to leave the cheerleaders alone during the game.

Pellegrino said he told Nelms to leave the cheerleaders alone and not bother them.

“When the games were over I observed Nelms walk to the west exit door in the gym, and then I observed a cheerleader heading toward the west exit door,” Pellegrino said. “I observed Nelms hug a cheerleader really tightly for a long period of time. The cheerleader was trying to get away from Nelms. I then started walking his way and Nelms saw that I was approaching him, and that is when he let go of the cheerleader.”

Pellegrino said he followed the cheerleader and saw that she was crying, but when he asked her what happened she walked away. He later attempted to speak again to the cheerleader, who was still crying, but she reportedly said she didn’t feel good and went home.

Pellegrino then confronted Nelms. “I asked him why he hugged the cheerleader and did not let her go,” Pellegrino said. “Nelms stated, ‘I don’t know.’ I asked him, ‘Did you purposely not let her go, and did she want you to let her go?’

“Nelms stated, ‘Yes, she did want to go, but I do not know why I did not let go of her.’”

Nelms was released from the Hawkins County Jail on $500 bond shortly after midnight Saturday and is scheduled for arraignment Monday.

“Volunteer High School’s principal, Mr. Jim Dykes, has reported an internal investigation is still on-going at the school,” Britton said. “All applicable Hawkins County School Board policies and Tennessee State Board law will be followed. All school personnel are focused on providing a safe school environment at any school-related event.”

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