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Powhatan school staff member won’t be charged with assaulting students

Posted at 11:27 AM, Apr 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-10 17:26:42-04

POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. – A staff member at a Powhatan County elementary school accused of assaulting students last month will not be charged after an investigation revealed no crime was committed, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Gretchen Brown.

Brown says the decision was made after a “complete and thorough investigation” was conducted by the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office, then reviewed by her.

The alleged incident occurred inside the school lunchroom at Flat Rock Elementary School on Friday, March 15.

It was alleged that the school employee may have used “inappropriate force” with children after “what can best be described as a food fight” in the cafeteria at lunchtime, Brown said.

Powhatan school officials confirm school administrators first received reports of the physical contact just after lunch. Brown says the school nurse immediately photographed a light red mark on one child’s shoulder area.

“At that time, the child provided the administration with a written statement detailing that the employee had only verbally addressed the group,” Brown said in an email to CBS 6. “However, later that day the mother of that child came to the school and after being left alone with the child, the child amended her statement saying that the employee had grabbed her. It was then that the mother of the same child presented a different photo depicting additional red marks that were inconsistent with those previously observed and photographed by the nurse.”

Brown says there were no video recordings of the incident and there were “inconsistent witness statements” from the other children involved. The investigation also revealed that no adults in the cafeteria observed the staff member use any force against the child.

“Essentially this is a case of conflicting statements where we have no probable cause to go forward with charges at this time,” said Brown.

Brown says they have determined that based on the evidence gathered, no crime was committed by the employee. She also noted that pursuant to Virginia Code 18.2-57 (G), a school employee cannot be charged with assault for “incidental, minor, or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control.”