MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Houston High School choir teacher fired following an investigation of improper conduct with students said Thursday that the allegations against him keep getting bigger, and he has an explanation for all of them.
“I’m innocent and that I want everyone to hear my side of the story, which is innocence, and that I have an account for everything they’ve brought up against me,” Dr. William Rayburn said from his attorney's Nashville office, with his wife sitting next to him.
In his first public interview since the allegations came to light, Rayburn told WREG's Bridget Chapman he's innocent. He claimed all of the allegations stem from the competitive nature of the Houston High School choir program and the fact that not everyone is happy with how things are run.
“My reaction has been that it’s a mob mentality sometimes and they keep going and they keep coming up with stories. Some of the stories get older, further and further years back. And many of them are rehashing the same thing over and over," he said.
“A lot of it is about solos, and a lot of it is about who is in charge of the program and those types of things. So, it boils back to that."
As an example he brought up one incident in which a parent "chewed him out" the entire drive home on his personal cell phone. The harassment, he said, got so bad, he was forced to change his number.
As for the allegations concerning him kissing and hugging his students, he said that was taken out of context.
“Most of these kids, not only have I taught for three or four years but I knew them in middle school, gone to their middle school concerts and worked with them. I’ve known them for 6, 7 years.”
"In these situations... know they come in to hug me in the morning, they initiate the hugs. They come in in the morning to uh, they’re sad. They want a hug because they’re sad, something happened on the way to school, they had a wreck at school.”
“This kissing situation was more of a father like figure, and I would have kids who would come from a class upset. That they would be crying, literally crying when they walked into my door and they would say 'I need a hug' and I would just kiss them on the top of the head. Others in celebration when they would do something absolutely amazing that was beyond their expectations when you push those students there. There would be a peck on the forehead saying, ‘I am so proud of you.' And that would be it.”
In another allegation, Rayburn was accused of pushing a student up against the wall with his belly. WREG obtained the police report for that incident. The majority of the report was redacted with only a sentence or two about what happened.
Rayburn explained that incident happened in a storage cabinet of sorts at the school. He said while he doesn't even remember the incident, there is very little space in that room, leaving not a lot of space for people to navigate their way around. Being a bigger guy, he said, it's possible he bumped a student, but the alleged incident wasn't brought up again until now.
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