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They Co-Taught an AP English Class. One Was Teacher of the Year. Now Both Are Accused of Sexual Crimes Involving Students.


"She believed in me and I always wanted someone to believe in me."

Colleagues Debra Tanksley and Ashley Ashe co-taught a class for AP Literature and Mythology at Burke County High School in Waynesboro, Georgia.

Debra (Image source: Burke Co. Sheriff) Debra Tanksley (Image source: Burke Co. Sheriff)

One of their former students, Kandice Goddard, said both were great teachers and noted the efforts of Tanksley — who's taught in the district for seven years — in particular.

“If I ever went to sleep, you know, she’d be like, 'you better wake up. Don’t you sleep,'" the 2012 graduate told WJBF-TV in Augusta. "She believed in me and I always wanted someone to believe in me."

Indeed Tanksley was the district's  2012-13 Teacher of the Year.

So it's a huge surprise to Goddard, and many others, that Tanksley and her colleague Ashe are both in hot-water over alleged sexual crimes involving students.

“I’m shocked," Goddard told the station. "I’m having a hard time believing they did it.”

Tanksley, 37, is charged with criminal attempt of sexual assault and electronically furnishing obscene material to minors — just a week after an investigation revealed Ashe had an alleged sexual relationship with a student.

In addition Tanksley is also accused of fixing grades for the student investigators say she had inappropriate contact with at the school, WJBF reported.

Ashley Ashe (Image source: Burke Co. Sheriff) Ashley Ashe (Image source: Burke Co. Sheriff)

More from WJBF:

The content of the messages or photos were not described by authorities, but Sgt. Dedric Smith, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, confirmed that contact had been made between Tanksley and a student.

"The text messages were very detailed as to what they wanted to do," Smith told WRDW-TV in Augusta, adding that the messaging "started back in January" and there were "several thousand" of them.

Ashe, 25 and married, was charged with aggravated child molestation on May 6 after being accused of having a sexual encounter with a 16-year-old student at the school. Authorities said it was the probe into Ashe's alleged crime that led police to Tanksley's reported activities.

Both teachers have been placed on administrative leave, according to a statement released by Burke County School Superintendent Rudy Falana on Wednesday, WJBF noted.

WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

This story has been updated.

(H/T: New York Daily News)

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