BY KEN LITTLE
A former Greene County school bus driver pleaded guilty to aggravated statutory rape Friday in Greene County Criminal Court and was sentenced to a jail term of two years at 30 percent release eligibility.
Jerry Edward Malone, 49, of 1745 Billy Bible Road, was charged last year with the offense, which involved a 17-year-old and occurred in October 2012.
Prosecutors dropped charges of statutory rape by an authority figure and purchasing alcoholic beverages for a child in satisfaction of Malone's guilty plea on the aggravated statutory rape charge.
Malone, represented by Brent Hensley, was sentenced by Judge John F. Dugger Jr.
On Oct. 24, 2012, District Attorney General Berkeley Bell requested that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) look into allegations that Malone had sexual relations with a juvenile.
At the time of the complaint, Malone drove a school bus for the Greene County School System, TBI Special Agent Jason Locke said in a news release after Malone was indicted by a Greene County Grand Jury in March 2013.
Malone was suspended from driving the school bus in October 2012 and fired in January 2013, when school system officials learned more about findings of the TBI investigation.
Locke said the investigation showed that Malone met two juveniles on Oct. 7, 2012, in Greene County and provided alcohol to them.
Malone and the juveniles went to a house, where one of the juveniles had sexual intercourse with him, the TBI agent said.
Malone's bus route served students from North Greene High School and Ottway Elementary School.
He was a full-time school system employee who worked as a custodian at Ottway Elementary School in addition to his bus-driving duties.
Malone is also known locally as a musician.
Several relatives and supporters of Malone were in the courtroom when he was sentenced.
"You've got a lot of people who signed a petition for you," Dugger noted before sentencing Malone.
Dugger also issued an injunction ordering Malone to stay away from the victim when he is released from jail.
"He pled guilty to what he was accused of doing. We're in a position where we try to honor the wishes of a victim's family," Assistant District Attorney General Ritchie Collins said after Malone was sentenced.