Former High School Coach Skips Arraignment

He's smiling in his school photo, but there's little doubt Thomas Fenderson is not smiling now with the criminal allegations hanging over him.

"Sexual relationship with a student," said Commerce Police chief Ray Horn, trying to track down Fenderson after he failed to appear for his arraignment.

"Today he was supposed to turn himself in," he said.

43-year-old Fenderson had been with the Commerce school district for seven years and resigned two weeks ago on the day the principal contacted police, informing them of allegations that Fenderson had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. According to the affidavit the relationship began with flirtatious texting and escalated to a rendezvous at the Deluxe Inn and Suites in Miami, where police later obtained a copy of Fenderson's credit card receipt, signature on the registry, and driver's license.

The affidavit also states that sex occurred at Fenderson's house and at the high school on the couch in the coaches room.

Thursday afternoon the community of Commerce was celebrating at a downtown festival, with police in attendance, and on alert.

"Find him and execute the warrant," said the chief.