Former Kingsport school employee accused of sexual contact with student

Rain Smith • Oct 23, 2019 at 6:30 PM

KINGSPORT — A former instructional assistant at a Kingsport middle school has been arrested for an allegedly inappropriate relationship with a student.

Cornelia Durham, 49, of Jefferson Avenue, was jailed Monday night by Kingsport police. According to an affidavit in Kingsport General Sessions Court, in July an investigation began into her relationship with a 15-year-old boy.

Prior to that, Durham served as an instructional assistant at Ross N. Robinson Middle School, 1517 Jessee St. Kingsport City Schools Assistant Superintendent Andy True says that when administrators learned of the potential wrongdoing, Durham was immediately suspended. The following day she resigned.

Court records state a detective investigating the case reviewed text messages between Durham and the boy, finding that they alluded to an inappropriate relationship. When Durham was interviewed, she allegedly admitted to kissing the juvenile and buying him alcohol.

Durham is charged with sexual contact with a minor by an authority figure, purchasing alcoholic beverages for a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a child. She is scheduled for a court appearance on Dec. 12.