Sex offender arrested after school open house

A former teacher – who is now a registered sex offender – was arrested and charged with violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) after helping a teacher during open house at Oneonta Elementary School last week.

Crystal Clowdus, 35, was arrested Wednesday after she was asked by a teacher to write out receipts the previous evening.

Clowdus pleaded guilty in 2014 to sending nude or partially nude photos to a 15- year-old student while she was a teacher at Susan Moore High School. She also was accused of sending explicit text messages to the student.

She received a sentence of 10 years, nine years suspended, and served six months in the Blount County Correctional Facility followed by six months of house arrest. She also was ordered to serve five years probation and was forced to surrender her teaching certificate and register for life as a sex offender.

“Contrary to news reports that have been made, the scope of the investigation performed by the Blount County Sheriff’s Office demonstrated that Mrs. Clowdus had volunteered at the school a dozen times over the past year, “ said Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey. “Sheriff’s deputies obtained information from the superintendent, principal, teachers, and parents who all used the phrases ‘volunteer’, ‘volunteering’ and ‘volunteered’ to describe Mrs. Clowdus’s activity at the school.”

Oneonta interim Superintendent Tim Nabors released the following statement:

“It has come to the attention of the Board that a sex offender was volunteering in various capacities at our school. It is important to know that to the best of our knowledge these interactions were always in the presence of faculty and staff.

“Although this individual can be on school property under specific circumstances, the act of volunteering is disallowed. The faculty and staff were not knowledgeable of this specific language within the Alabama statute. Going forward, we will ensure that our faculty and staff understands the Alabama statute and we will be proactive to ensure this never happens again.”

Casey said the county’s sex offender investigator was made aware of Clowdus’s violation. After interviewing several witnesses, he obtained the warrant against her. “All sex offenders are instructed as to what the requirements of SORNA are for them,” Casey said. “They are required to initial that they have read them and understand them.”

She went on to say that her office has received multiple reports of Clowdus taking part in prohibited activities at her child’s school, including watching the children in the class without the teacher present. “It hasn’t been just one time,” she said. “There is no confusion as to what rules a sex offender has to follow. Each sex offender is made aware of the rules and they must acknowledge they know and understand the rules. A sex offender cannot simply volunteer at a school at any time in any capacity.”

Clowdus was booked into the Blount County Correctional Facility and released after posting bond of $15,000.