Parents angry after Tennessee teacher originally charged with sexual battery gets plea deal, community service

Around the South

GALLATIN, Tenn (WKRN) — A middle school teacher in Tennessee was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery and simple assault last year.

This came after Shafer Middle School sixth grade teacher Robert Ring was suspended for allegedly having sexually explicit conversations with students. 

Last week, he pleaded guilty only to aggravated assault, and a Sumner County Criminal Court judge sentenced him to three years probation and 500 hours of community service.

Thursday night, Shafer Middle School parents and other Gallatin residents held a protest to dispute Ring’s sentence.

“These kids were brave and courageous and they stepped up. They did what is so hard and what so many people are terrified to do. And do you know what our justice system said? Sorry! Sorry about your lifetime of pain,” one demonstrator told the crowd.

Chad Vinson has two sons that attend Shafer Middle, and he says he was shocked when he heard the verdict.

“When I read what the sentence was, it blew my mind,” said Vinson.

According to warrants issued by Sumner County last summer, the original charges against Ring stemmed from two separate incidents in May of 2019.

One incident occurred on May 15. Warrants state that a student needed help opening a jammed locker. A 12-year-old student was attempting to open the locker when police say Ring approached him from behind. Ring walked upon the student, causing the front of his body to rub the students back.

The incident was caught on video, and police said you can hear the student say “you’re right on top of me” as he quickly turned around. The student said Ring told him, “I know you like it.”

According to the warrants, the second incident occurred on May 16. Ring made a 12-year-old male student sit at a separate desk near Ring’s desk. While the student was at the desk, the student told police Ring placed his hand on the student’s thigh. The student told police Ring told him if he didn’t do his work he was going to “rip” his “nut” off.

The student later told police Ring threatened to “eat his nuts off” if he wasn’t working. The student also told police Ring was rubbing his thigh as he did this. 

Warrants stated that in other instances, Ring made another 12-year-old student sit separately from the class. The student told police Ring “bashed” his head into Ring’s crotch. He also made another 12-year-old student sit separately from the class. Warrants state that Ring put his hand on that student’s thigh and told him that if he looked up, he would move his hand further up.

The organizer of Thursday’s protest, Cheyanne Scarbrough, says she doesn’t have any kids of her own but is still concerned for her nieces and nephews that will one day attend Shafer Middle School.

“We’re not going to stay silent about these predators going after our kids,” said Scarbrough, “There’s no reason that a pedophile should be out on the street.”

Ring’s attorney says that because his client has no criminal history, his record can be expunged at the end of his probation.

The parents of one of Ring’s juvenile victims sent News 2 the following statement:

“As parents of one of the victims, we were not given the opportunity to have a say in this outcome. The only thing that comforts us about it is that 6 boys do not have to face the additional trauma of a public trial. Given the horrific details that we know about this case, we are saddened that there were no long term provisions set fourth preventing this man from having contact with children. We do not encourage the angry and even somewhat violent tone that some in the community have expressed, however, as parents who know what the struggle of speaking out has been like for the children involved, we take comfort in the support of our community. We fully stand behind the words of the parents who spoke in court and want to stress that, medical condition or not, this man’s life will resume normalcy in 3 years, but the lives of the 6 boys affected by this experience will not.”

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