A man who formerly worked as a teacher at Lutie and as a teacher and principal at Gainesville has entered a plea of not guilty on a charge of sexual contact with a student by a teacher. Marion “Sonny” Trent, 69, of Thornfield, was arraigned and entered the plea March 5 during this month’s Ozark County law day.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed with the court, a male student at Lutie School told superintendent Scot Young that Trent had rubbed his back and touched his genitals multiple times at Trent's house, where the student was living, and during class at Lutie School while Trent was employed as an art teacher. The alleged incidents are reported to have occurred between fall 2010 and May 2011.
The affidavit states that the male student said he was intimidated by Trent and was told by Trent he would have no place to go if Trent kicked him out.
Ozark County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cecilia Clayton stated in the affidavit that after a Miranda warning was read and signed, Trent said he had applied medication to the student's back for acne and checked the student for abnormalities following a conversation on testicular cancer.
Trent's attorney, Chris Wade of Ava, said Trent denies all allegations and looks forward to clearing his name.
"He adamantly denies the charges, and there is no physical evidence in the case. He has been a foster parent for decades, and this is the first allegation that has ever been brought against him," Wade said.
Young told the Times that Trent's employment with the Lutie school district ended last year. Contacted Monday during spring break, Young was out of the office and unable to provide dates of employment for Trent. Wade confirmed that Trent has retired.
Gainesville superintendent Joe Donley verified that Trent was employed by the Gainesville schools from 1981 to 1994, serving as elementary principal from August 1990 to May 1993.
Trent is scheduled to reappear in the Ozark County Circuit Court for trial setting on June 5.