Editor’s note: This story contains information about the alleged sexual abuse of children that may be offensive to some readers.
Thomas Evans Baird, a former 30-year high school band and chorus director at Manchester’s Westwood Junior High – now Westwood Middle School, was indicted Tuesday, Jan. 8, by the Coffee County Grand Jury on 34 counts related to sexual acts with multiple minors.
Baird, 79, of Manchester, was originally arrested Nov. 28, 2018, on a charge of aggravated sexual battery against a 12-year-old and freed after posting a $10,000 bond. On Dec. 17, he was placed on a GPS monitor, at his own expense, after he attended a Dec. 9 church service at which one of the alleged victims was present.
Following these indictments, Baird was on Friday, Jan. 11, again booked into Coffee County Jail, this time under a $100,000 bond.
The charges, which include at least 14 Class B felonies, are as follows:
• Two counts on continuous sexual abuse to a child
• Six counts of indecent exposure
• Twelve counts of exploitation of a minor to observe sexual activity
• Three counts of aggravated sexual battery
• Five counts of sexual battery by authority figure
• Three counts of attempt sexual battery by an authority figure
• One count of attempted rape
• One count of attempted aggravated statutory rape
• One count of attempted statutory rape by an authority figure
Coffee County District Attorney General Craig Northcott said the charges include multiple alleged victims, ranging in age from 12 to 15, dating back to 2016 and continuing to present day.
“It’s a horrible situation and certainly a lot of lives ruined,” Northcott said. “We will obviously continue to investigate and pursue these charges.”
An individual convicted of a Class B felony faces a minimum of eight years in prison per count. If Baird is found guilty on all counts listed in the indictment, he could be in jail for the rest of his life.
Some charges may overlap and be merged when Baird is tried in court, Northcott said.
Baird will appear in court at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, for a formal hearing of charges. Due to these indictments, his previously scheduled Feb. 14 court date has been dismissed.