One charge dropped, but teacher’s aide still faces second sex crime charge

Posted at 10:47 PM, Jun 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-21 07:53:22-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)- A local elementary school teacher’s aide is accused of sex crimes against two children, but at an emotional court hearing Wednesday, prosecutors announced they will not be pursuing one of the charges against Alex Irby.

They say one alleged victim was not emotionally prepared to go to trial so that charge has been “nulle prossed.”

But a judge did hear from another of Alex Irby’s alleged accusers, an 11-year-old girl.  That case was certified and will now be heard by a grand jury.

And as the session at the Oliver Hill Courthouse closed Tuesday, a group of Irby’s supporters huddled around the accused Richmond teacher’s aide to pray for a resolution to a case that has tested both his family and his future.  "Allegations of this type carry a great weight,” said his attorney Kevin Purnell.  “It has disrupted his life."

Prosecutors put on enough evidence to show probable cause at Wednesday’s preliminary hearing.  They played video evidence of an incident in the hallway of G.H. Reid Elementary School, but spectators could not see what transpired because the judge asked to have the courtroom cleared.

"Just because there's a charge doesn't mean someone is guilty,” said Purnell.  “It says that in our constitution.  It'll come down to another day in court and Mr. Irby will have that."

Irby has worked with Richmond City schools and youth for almost three decades and family members say helping children is what he’s done almost all his life.   They say they can’t believe someone would accuse him of taking indecent liberties.

His defense attorney says his client will survive this ordeal with the help of his family and friends.  "We all have obstacles,” said Purnell.  “This is a man of strong faith and in a sense, that's what's in question by the allegations that have been made."

A grand jury will meet in early August to see if the charges will remain or will be dropped.  In the meantime, Irby remains free on bond.