ROTC instructor at Hendersonville High charged with statutory rape

Michael Bass (Courtesy: Hendersonville Police Department)

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The ROTC instructor at Hendersonville High School has been charged with one count of statutory rape by an authority figure.

Hendersonville police said they received a complaint regarding sexual contact between Michael Bass, 46, and a 17-year-old female victim on April 1.

The alleged incident happened during the latter part of 2014. Police say after obtaining evidence to confirm the victim’s statement, Bass was arrested and charged.

“The fact is when a person has influence, authority over another person, which will cause a report to be delayed sometime. When that authority or influence is eliminated, a lot of times that person will come forward and make a complaint,” explained Sgt. Jim Vaughan.

A press release states the investigation revealed that while Bass utilized his position as the ROTC instructor at Hendersonville High, none of alleged sexual encounters happened at school.

Michael Bass (Courtesy: Hendersonville Police Department)

The affidavit states, “They then went to the upstairs living room and he started kissing her and took off her clothes. The victim then stated that the defendant and she started having vaginal intercourse. The victim believed this event occurred in November of 2014. The victim stated that they continued to have sex until March 2017.”

The document also states there is a recorded phone call where Bass admits having sex with the victim while she was a minor.

Personnel records show Bass began his teaching career at Hendersonville High in November 2012. Before that, his resume says he was a highly decorated active Marine for 21 years.

His employee record indicates he entered the Marine Corps in Feb. 14, 1988. In June 2009, he became a substitute teacher in Williamson County, and he worked as an assistant marine officer instructor for Vanderbilt University in 2005.

Bass’ resume also indicates he won numerous medals, including the Meritorious Service Medal in 2008 and Navy Commendation Medal with Valor Device and Combat Action ribbon awards.

A fellow marine and a sergeant major who has known Bass for over 15 years describes the ROTC instructor as a mentor as well as brave in a letter of recommendation in his personnel file.

Sgt. Major David Wilson wrote in the letter that he and Bass were assigned to a rifle company as the senior enlisted tactical advisors to their respective commanders.

“It was during this time that Michael’s leadership certainly saved lives. With over 200 marines in his charge, his leadership in the battle of Fallujah was courageous and exceptional. Over the course of two weeks of house-to-house fighting, Michael placed himself at the point of friction on numerous occasions. He personally evacuated dozens of casualties, resupplied each of his platoons with fresh ammunition for a grueling fight, and personally handled himself with exceptional courage under fire. Through it all he continued to teach, mentor, and guide,” the letter said.

In his application, Bass himself wrote, “I believe in giving kids the tools needed to be successful and providing positive direction.”

Sumner County Schools says he has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation against him.

At the time of his arrest, Bass was booked into the Sumner County jail and released the same day on $30,000 bond. He’s due in court May 24.

The Hendersonville Police Department is requesting that if there are any other victims, contact the Hendersonville Police Department at 615-822-1111.