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Former Commerce Teacher Charged With Rape Fails To Show In Court

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Thomas Fenderson [photo courtesy of the Commerce Public Schools website] Thomas Fenderson [photo courtesy of the Commerce Public Schools website]

A former Commerce High School teacher facing three second-degree rape charges, failed to show up to court Thursday morning. Thomas Fenderson is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student.

Police say the 43 year old was scheduled for arraignment, but failed to show. Commerce Police say the tried to locate him at his Miami home, but he wasn't there.

On May 15th, the Commerce Police Department received information from the principal of Commerce High School that they had been looking into reports of a teacher and student were involved in a sexual relationship on and off school grounds.

Officers say they met with the student who told them she and Fenderson had been communicating by phone beginning in January of 2014. Then, she said they began flirting and on March 28th she and Fenderson met at the Deluxe Inn & Suites in Miami and had sex.

A report says the 17-year-old also told officers they had sex at Fenderson's home on the couch and in his son's bedroom, and another time at the high school.

Officers say they received a call with information that Fenderson had confessed to Principal Jack Kelly about his relationship with the student.

The reports says also were able to confirm that Fenderson had registered in the Deluxe Inn & Suites. They say Fenderson signed the registration card, and the motel had a copy of his driver's license.

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