A West Ashley High School teacher charged last week with raping a woman drove his vehicle into a tree and died Thursday morning in rural Florence County, authorities said.

A suicide note was reportedly found in Scott Knight's Jeep Cherokee, but its contents have not been released, said Charleston County sheriff's Maj. John Clark.

Knight had troubles in his life. In 1983, notorious killer Charles Blake raped and murdered Knight's mother in the family's James Island home while Knight and his brother were asleep. One son found the mother's body after she had been stabbed to death, authorities said.

Blake, 44, is serving several life sentences for raping and murdering Gloria Knight and Robin Robertson Margiotta of Charleston. He also was convicted of a host of other charges, including kidnapping and raping another woman.

In recent months, Knight, 39, had encountered legal problems of his own and was on leave from his job teaching computer classes at West Ashley High.

On Friday, Charleston County deputies arrested Knight on charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Affidavits describe an attack in September at Knight's home at Concord West of the Ashley on 45 Sycamore Ave.

Knight was accused of luring a woman in her early 30s into his bedroom with the promise of a gift. Once inside, he allegedly locked the door, pushed her onto his bed and raped her, according to an arrest affidavit.

Knight left the Charleston County jail on Saturday after posting $20,000 bail. What he was doing in Florence County remains unclear.

Florence County Coroner M.G. "Bubba" Matthews did not return phone calls from The Post and Courier. But he told The (Florence) Morning News that Knight was traveling south at a high rate of speed when his vehicle ran off S.C. Highway 301 in Olanta and crashed into an oak tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Matthews told the Morning News that he was investigating the crash as a "possible self-inflicted wreck." A composition notebook was found in the vehicle containing several letters, including some that indicated Knight was contemplating suicide, he told the newspaper.

West Ashley High was on holiday break Thursday. But the Charleston County School District issued a statement expressing sadness at Knight's passing. In addition to teaching, Knight had worked as an assistant football coach at the school.

"This morning, we were very sorry to receive the tragic news that Scott Knight was killed in a car crash," the statement read. "During this difficult time, we send our deepest condolences to Mr. Knight's friends and family, and pledge our full support for any CCSD students or staff affected by his death."

Knight had been on administrative leave from his teaching job since being arrested Nov. 14 on two counts of first-degree harassment, according to the school district.

Student complaints about Knight go back to June, when a 16-year-old girl reported him making off-color remarks about her to her boyfriend, an arrest affidavit states. Her parents made a report to the school's administration. She claimed he continued trying to start conversations with her this school year and would stand outside her classroom door and stare.

A 14-year-old girl also reported him making inappropriate comments.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or gsmith@postandcourier.com.