WISE - A former Powell Valley High School teacher's aide accused of having an improper relationship with a student is free on a $4,500 secured property bond pending a June 26 jury trial date.
Darlene Blagg, 36, 2200-D Egan Road in Big Stone Gap, reported voluntarily to authorities with her attorney, Gerald Gray of Clintwood, on Monday as arranged last week. She was served with a nine-count indictment charging her with engaging in an illicit intimate relationship with a then-17-year-old PVHS student in December. The student has since turned 18.
Following processing and an appearance before a Wise County magistrate when bond was established and secured, Blagg appeared for an arraignment before retired 30th Circuit Court Judge Robert Stump, who was filling in for Circuit Judge Joseph Carico because Carico had other commitments Monday.
During the arraignment, Blagg pleaded not guilty to all nine counts. Stump accepted for the court docket a May 30 plea date and June 26 jury trial date as arranged by her attorney and Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Ron Elkins.
The nine counts in the indictment handed down by a Wise County grand jury more than a week ago charge Blagg with taking indecent liberties with a juvenile under 18 while serving in a custodial or supervisory role. Each count carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.
Authorities said last week Blagg has confessed to information contained in four of the nine counts against her. The mother of the male student contacted the Wise County Sheriff's Department on March 13, telling investigators she found inappropriate text messages to her son on a cell phone.
Elkins and the lead investigator, Tim Wagner, said last week the Wise County school division was informed of alleged improprieties some time before the sheriff's department was made aware of alleged criminal conduct. Elkins said the school division did not notify law enforcement but had notified personnel with the Wise County Department of Social Services.
A school administrator said Blagg was hired as a teacher's aide before the beginning of the 2006-07 school year and resigned last week. Prosecutors and investigators were under the impression she had been dismissed before they knew about the case.
On Monday, Stump asked Gray if he had already initiated plea bargaining negotiations with prosecutors. Gray said "tentative" plea bargaining discussions had been broached prior to the arraignment hearing.
There has been some confusion in court documents over Blagg's first and middle names. The indictment identifies her as both Darlene Anna Blagg and Darlene Ann Blagg. During Monday's arraignment, she was identified to Stump as Anna Darlene Blagg. Authorities said the confusion results from Blagg's own signatures on different court documents in different ways.
Authorities said last week Blagg is married and the mother of two children, ages 5 and 2.