Investigation of former band director widens

Authorities are investigating additional allegations against a former band director at Butler High School.

Last year, when Anthony Shelton was the volunteer assistant band director at Murphey Middle School, he allowed two suspended female pupils to spend the day with him in his band room, according to Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Thelma Gilchrist.

Mr. Shelton was arrested May 9 after two Butler High students said he had a prolonged sexual relationship with them.

Both of the middle school girls, who were 13 at the time, and pupils in Mr. Shelton's band class have denied anything inappropriate occurred. But the mother of one claims Mr. Shelton repeatedly made phone calls to her daughter at home before the girl spent the day with him.

"Mr. Shelton said at the time it was in relation to the band," Investigator Gilchrist said.

The mother, who was unaware of her daughter's suspension, told police she went to school to pick her daughter up early. When she and school officials realized they didn't know the girl's whereabouts, they began looking for her and alerted teachers -- including Mr. Shelton -- that she was missing.

"They notified all of the teachers, and they were told that nobody had seen any of the girls," Investigator Gilchrist said.

In an interview with police, the girls said they spent part of the time hiding in the middle school's instrument room. Investigator Gilchrist said at least one of the Butler victims has claimed she and Mr. Shelton had their first sexual encounter in the high school's instrument room.

"It's unfortunate, but I think that's probably where his career with the girls started -- at Murphey Middle School," she said.

Mr. Shelton remains in the Richmond County jail and faces two counts of child molestation and three counts of sexual assault against persons in custody.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.