Neighbors defend middle school coach accused of rape - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Neighbors defend middle school coach accused of rape

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The track team at Sherwood Middle School in Memphis was without a coach and down one seventh grade teacher Thursday now that 27-year-old Arlen Wilburn is behind bars.

He was charged this week with the statutory rape of a 13-year-old student.

According to court records, Wilburn sent the girl naked photos of himself via text and asked her to do the same.  She told police the two later had sex inside the school.

"He seems like such a nice man," said neighbor Gloria Saba.  "Got a new baby.  I hate that."

No one answered our knocks at the coach's home in Cordova.  However, neighbors on the block shared the same opinion of him.

"I have nothing derogatory to say," said Ray Saba.  "He seems to be a nice man."

"My girls have been around him," said neighbor Jana West, "and haven't been scared to be around him at all."

West said she spoke with Wilburn's wife.

"She is standing by her husband as she should," said West.

West told Action News 5 the coach's wife told her that Wilburn's accuser was the one pursuing him.

"He had told her the little girl was sending messages but he did not respond," said West.  "Or if he did, it was to stop texting."

West described Wilburn as a big teddy bear for whom she and other neighbors would be praying.

Coach Wilburn was suspended from the school district without pay.  His bond was set at $75,000 although prosecutors requested a $500,000 bond.

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