THOMASVILLE — The Thomas County Central High School (TCCHS) band director was a little more than two weeks into his new job when he was charged with a sex offense that allegedly took place at an Alabama school.
Brewton, Ala., police officers traveled to Thomasville Wednesday with a warrant for the arrest of Jeffrey Lance Gainous, 32, 60 23rd St. N.E., Cairo. The felony warrant — issued Wednesday — charges Gainous with one count of school employee sex.
“Additional charges are forthcoming,” according to a Brewton Police Department release.
Brewton police contacted the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday in reference to Gainous, former six-year band director at T.R. Miller High School in Brewton, a town of about 5,400, 65 miles northeast of Mobile, Ala.
Gainous was interviewed by Brewton police for several hours Wednesday at the sheriff’s office. He was charged with the offense late Wednesday night and booked into the Thomas County Jail.
Dr. Dusty Kornegay, Thomas County School System superintendent, said Gainous’ references were checked carefully, and a criminal background check was done.
“All of the information gathered was positive from both a personal and professional standpoint,” Kornegay said Thursday.
The allegations against him were made very recently by members of his former band after he relocated to South Georgia, Kornegay said, adding that the allegations were made “within the last couple of weeks in Brewton.”
Said the superintendent, “Since he has been working at Thomas County Central High School, no indication of any inappropriate conduct has been reported or suspected.”
Gainous’ employment with the school system ended Wednesday night when he submitted a letter of resignation.
“Apparently, while he was over there (Alabama), he had some inappropriate sexual contact with students or a student,” said Lt. Tim Watkins, sheriff’s office chief investigator.
Thomas County Magistrate Roy M. Lilly Jr. signed a waiver of extradition Thursday morning. Brewton police officers who questioned Gainous here Wednesday night transported the suspect to Brewton Thursday afternoon.
Watkins did not know the age of the alleged Alabama victim, other than the individual was under the age of 19.
Information released by Brewton Police Department says Gainous is charged with school employee engaging in a sex act. “It is the first charge in a large criminal investigation involving (Jeffrey Lance) Gainous,” the information says.
A Brewton police investigator said no other information will be released at this time.
The superintendent of the Brewton City School System did not return a phone call made Thursday by the Times-Enterprise.
Recently retired former TCCHS band director Michial Mayhall has agreed to return as band director to replace Gainous.
“(Mr.) Mayhall has agreed to stay at least through the marching season,” Kornegay told the Times-Enterprise Thursday afternoon.
Thomas County School System employees are extremely disappointed to learn about the allegations made in regard to Gainous’ personal and professional conduct in his previous school district, Kornegay explained.
Gainous grew up in nearby Grady County and has been known by many area band directors since he was a high school student, Kornegay said.
“He was highly regarded for his skills as a musician and band leader. He impressed our interview team and has been well-received by both students and parents. There was no way that we could have foreseen matters developing as they have,” the superintendent added.
Said Kornegay, “The Thomas County School System holds its employees to a high standard of moral and ethical conduct. ... We are committed to an outstanding high school band program in Thomas County, and we look forward to a very successful season in spite of this unfortunate setback.”
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.