Paducah — Paducah Tilghman High School head cheerleading coach David Wade is out out of jail on a $1,000 bond Tuesday.
He pleaded not guilty to tampering with physical evidence. The charge comes after police said he sent a sexually explicit video text to a group of cheerleaders. Less than an hour after the text was sent, the students reported it and Paducah Police began to investigate.
Grace Stewart is an intervention program director at Lotus, an organization that provides services for victims of sexual violence and child abuse. She calls the school's quick response a road map for others.
"Believing the student as soon as they come forward is just imperative," Stewart said. "Not only for keeping kids safe, but also helping them feel validated — that they were listened to. That they were believed is the most appropriate response for a school system."
Stewart said when a situation like that happens, students may battle with difficult emotions, especially if the person is an authority figure. She said an open dialogue as a family is critical.
"How have we been impacted by what happened?" Stewart said. "And what do we want to do as a family to kind of move forward? Is it just making sure we have a regular check-ins to see how we're doing? Talk about what happened."
Stewart believes that these cases aren't always preventable. But parents should try to keep track of who their children are talking to.
"Parents also need to be really aware of the messages coming and going and what's on their child's phone," Steward said. "Such that if that child were to go home that evening, a parent could access it and find out what's being sent."
Paducah Public Schools Superintendent Donald Shively said they are actively working with Paducah police. They said Wade will remain on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.
Wade's preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. on Sept. 24.