Bluffton Middle volunteer teacher charged with seeking sex with Fla. girl, 14

rlurye@islandpacket.com

February 19, 2014 

Ryan Burd

SUBMITTED PHOTO

A Bluffton Middle School volunteer music teacher was charged Wednesday in Florida with trying to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, according to a sheriff's report.

Ryan Burd, 28, of Hilton Head Island was arrested by the Alachua County Sheriff's Office on charges of using a computer to seduce a child, traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child, and using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, according to the Alachua County jail log.

Burd held after-school percussion classes for groups and individuals at Bluffton Middle School since applying as a volunteer in late August, Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster said. He also worked with a student at Hilton Head Island High School, Foster said.

The schools have received no complaints about Burd's conduct, Foster said, and his volunteer status has now been suspended.

In an interview with deputies Wednesday, Burd admitting he traveled to a girl's home to try to have sex with her, despite knowing she was 14, an Alachua County Sheriff's Office report said.

Burd was in Florida as a drummer with the touring ensemble Dallas Brass, which runs an educational program called "Music in the Schools." The group travels to communities for daylong residencies, which include a clinic, student rehearsals and a public performance, the Dallas Brass website states.

On Sunday, Burd was leading a music clinic for students when he met the victim, who "liked" the ensemble's page on Facebook, the report said. She then found Burd's personal Facebook page, and the two began sending each other messages, including one in which she said she was 14, according to the report.

Burd implied that he wanted to have sex with her, the report said.

On Sunday night, he went to her home without her parents' knowledge, parked down the street and was invited inside her home, the report said, bringing a towel that he said was for sex.

After the victim refused to have sex, Burd kissed her; she then said it was time for him to leave because her mother would be waking up soon, and Burd left, the report said.

The girl reported the incident Monday to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, after which Burd sent her an apology through Facebook, according to the report.

Deputies continued to communicate with Burd, posing as the victim, the report said, until he offered to drive to the girl's home Tuesday from Ocala, Fla.

At about 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, Burd arrived at the home, with a towel, and was arrested by deputies. Burd told deputies he had kissed her, which he believed made her uncomfortable, the report said.

A photo and biography of Burd had been removed from the Dallas Brass website by 1 p.m. Wednesday, and the group's Facebook page did not list him as a member. He will no longer be performing with the band, Kevin Teters, the group's manager, said late Wednesday.

Foster said a teacher was always in the vicinity of practice rooms during Burd's lessons at Beaufort County schools.

The school district did not pay Burd, but he received compensation from parents and the Bluffton Middle School band booster club, Foster said.

When asked whether a criminal background check had been conducted on Burd through the S.C. Law Enforcement Division before he became a district volunteer, Foster said he could not discuss an individual volunteer's application.

A SLED check Wednesday by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette turned up no criminal charges for Burd in South Carolina.

Burd was being held Wednesday at the Alachua County Jail in Gainesville pending a bond hearing Thursday.

The Beaufort County School District is currently trying to decide which volunteers need a formal background check, Foster has said, an examination that started after a volunteer assistant coach at Bluffton High School allegedly fought with one of her players earlier this month.

The district discovered that girls basketball assistant Alexandra Murphy had a felony arrest record that was not detected by its normal review process in early January, Foster has said. The district said after the incident that it would no longer rely on internal software and instead conduct background checks through SLED.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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