The director of the William Tennent High School choral group faces charges of multiple sex-related offenses against students including unlawful contact, corruption of minors, indecent assault, and lewd and threatening behavior.
The charges were filed yesterday against Tyrone Dinkins in Warminster, Bucks County for incidents involving eight students during the 2011-12 school year.
An investigation began when the police department received a complaint just before the school year ended of inappropriate contact between a teacher and several students, said Warminster Police Chief S. Michael Murphy Murphy and Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler. Police worked with the school district to look into the allegations against Dinkins, who has been a member of the school's music department since 2001. Dinkins, 37, lives in Oreland, Pa.
One 16-year-old girl told police that Dinkins, "touched her buttocks," and made lewd comments on five occasions, once telling her, "she looked like his own personal playboy bunny," according to the arrest affidavit. Another girl, also 16, made similar accusations.
And another student said Dinkins sent her text messages several times, once telling her, "she looked pretty in her dress." Moreover, two students said Dinkins grabbed or touched their breasts, the affidavit stated.
Investigators said Dinkins admitted to some of the behavior, including flirting with some of the students, mouthing words of a sexual nature to students, patting students on the buttocks, and, "pinching a female student's breast, while at school," according to the affidavit.
School officials were quick to respond to the charges.
"Our students' safety and welfare are always our primary concern," said a note posted by Superintendent Jennifer Cressman on the school's website. "The Centennial School District is extremely concerned by the very serious allegations against High School Choral Director Mr. Tyrone Dinkins."
The district said it was cooperating with Warminster Township Police Chief Michael Murphy.
Counselors, school psychologists, and social workers are being made available to students or staff members. The school district administration and the district's attorney said they will be available to meet with parents, staff, and students.
Dinkins is expected to turn himself in today for a preliminary hearing in district court. In all, he faces 16 charges, including two felony charges of unlawful contact with minors, and misdemeanor charges including corruption of minors, indecent assault, and harassment with lewd and threatening behavior.
Members of the choral group are in London to perform during the Olympics, according to the school's website.