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Former Bethlehem teacher under investigation

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By Forrest Berkshire, Editor

The Archdiocese of Louisville and Bethlehem High School confirmed Friday that a former teacher is suspected of carrying on an inappropriate relationship with one of his students.

Matt Bowling resigned as a teacher in July after the school became aware of reports he was involved with a student, according to a statement released by Cecilia Price, chief communications officer for the archdiocese.

“As required, the school immediately informed the public authorities and has cooperated with the police investigation,” Price said via email Friday.

Price and Bethlehem Principal Tom Hamilton said Bowling has not been at the school since July, when he resigned after the school became aware of the reports.

“We have a very specific policy in that regard, which we have followed,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said the school notified law enforcement as soon as they were aware there was an issue. Louisville Metro Police are investigating the accusations, Hamilton said.

Bowling had taught at Bethlehem since 2008 as a freshman and junior English teacher, as well as other courses. A schedule for the February 2013  conference for the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English/Language Arts, where Bowling was a scheduled presenter, listed other courses he had taught as film study, modern American history, journalism and American government.

Hamilton said that with the police investigation pending, he did not have specific details on the possible criminal side of the case.

A Louisville Metro Police spokesman declined to verify that the department is investigating Bowling, citing a policy that the department does not confirm investigations until some action is taken.

Officials did not release the age or grade level of the student with whom Bowling is suspected of having an inappropriate relationship.

The age of consent in Kentucky is 16 in most instances. However, in recent years, lawmakers have raised the age when teachers or other people in positions of authority are involved.

In July 2012, the law governing statutory rape raised the age of consent of a minor engaging in sexual relations with a teacher to 18 from 16, where it had been set since 2006.

Also, lawmakers added the special distinction against those in authority in the law spelling out first-degree sexual abuse, establishing the age of consent in those instances at 18.쇓