Investigation

A Laurel Middle School teacher who also coached high school sports was not charged with any charges stemming from an incident on August 26, 2021, involving a 13-year-old student.

The Laurel Police Department had been investigating the case since it had been revealed to them in August.

“Shortly after [August 26] we received a file from Dr. [Toy] Watts about the case,” said Laurel Police Chief Tommy Cox.

“We have been looking at it and consulting with the family and the Jones County District Attorney’s office about the case. The District Attorney himself, the office, and our division have concluded that there was no felony law broken during the incident,” added Cox.

The initial statement was that Markel Milsap handed a 13-year-old a note that allegedly stated he “had a crush” on the student and stated in the note sexually explicit things he wanted to do. The student went to the bathroom to read the note, then exited the bathroom and asked who wrote the note and he replied, “do you want to know” then remarked having a crush on the student.

The student came home from school that day and told her parents that it did not stop there as she was called to his desk while in class and he allegedly showed her a grade of 100 for an assignment that she had not yet completed. The father of the student said that the school district was notified the following Tuesday due to the school being out because of the impending weather due to Hurricane Ida.

“We need to focus on this young lady who did the right thing. We can use this as an example for parents to talk to their children about when things happen that don’t seem right or know something that isn’t right, what they need to do to report it,” said Chief Cox. “She didn’t have to go through any more than words and a note. The focus needs to be on this young lady instead of that potential offender.”

“There was no touching involved or anything that this young lady had to endure for this to turn into a felony case,” stated Chief Cox.

Chief Cox commended the school for their swift action. He also stated that they would assist the family if they want to pursue any charges that can be pursued.

“We have been in touch with the family and have offered to help them if they want to pursue misdemeanor charges. I want to commend Dr. Watts and how they handled this. Their processes are different than ours, but they did exactly what they were supposed to do in reporting this to the DA and the police department. It is hard to prevent a problem, but when one happened, they separated the problem and handled it the right way,” said Chief Cox.

“I think instead of focusing on the suspect, who, frankly I’m disappointed that we can’t bring felony charges upon, because what he did was heinous, and I think everyone can say this was almost unfathomable, I want to focus on the young lady that whoever influenced her, it was strong enough to nip this. She did not let this go on or crawl into a shell, she immediately reported it to administrators and family. That kept her from being further victimized and probably kept other students from being victimized,” stated Chief Cox.

“While we cannot speak to specifics concerning personnel matters, actions not indicative of the care and respect we expect from our employees are handled according to district policy.” said the Laurel School District in a statement to Laurel Impact.