The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Police/Courts

October 2, 2013

Misdemeanor battery case against teacher presented in court

FAYETTEVILLE — Motions in the case of a Fayette County teacher charged in late July with two counts of misdemeanor battery were presented in Magistrate Court Tuesday.

Kathleen Wade, 57, of Hico and a kindergarten teacher at Fayetteville Elementary School, is accused of boxing one child’s ears and slapping another on the head.

Her attorney, Christopher S. Moorehead, presented three motions before special Magistrate Mary Jennings: motion to dismiss, motion to suppress statements and a motion in limine seeking an order precluding mention of an alleged November 2011 incident.

Jennings, a retired Raleigh County magistrate, said Fayette County assistant prosecutor Brian Parsons and the defense attorney made an agreed order that the suppression motion and the motion in limine be granted.

The prosecution would not agree to the motion to dismiss.

No date for a jury trial has been set yet.

According to court documents, Moorehead moved that the court dismiss the two misdemeanor battery charges because the statements and accounts of the incidents from the alleged child victims doesn’t match reports by adults and what the West Virginia State Police say happened.

All children involved in the incidents were interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Oak Hill where one boy said Wade shook his head and that it didn’t hurt, it was not scary and that he likes being with her. In further questioning, the boy said he did not get hit on the top of the head.

Another student said Wade is a “nice” teacher, he didn’t see anyone get hit at the library, as was alleged, but that he has trouble with Wade when she is loud. The boy later said Wade hurt the top of his head and she used only one hand. Later in the same interview, the boy said Wade pushed his head down with only one hand, saying it was hard to talk about and he didn’t remember.

These statements don’t match up with State Police Sgt. K.D. Horrocks’ report that says Fayetteville librarian Kathy Gilliam saw Wade slap a boy on top of the head and told him to stop causing trouble on May 2. The other librarian, Penny Bowles, told Horrocks that she heard a loud smack and when she looked up, she saw Wade’s hand on the boy’s head.

In the second incident on May 3, kindergarten aide Yvonne Bowles said she had seen Wade smack another student in the classroom. The report says Wade allegedly caught a student in a lie about some missing papers and she hit him on both ears with both of her hands.

According to the motion to suppress, statements given by Wade were in violation of her Miranda rights and any statements violated her constitutional rights. Also, the motion says all of the statements given by Wade were at the request of her supervisors at the Board of Education.

The motion in limine sought to prevent anyone from mentioning, admitting or introducing a reference to an alleged incident that was reported in November.

The defense says introducing that information and trying to relate it to these allegations would be used for no other reason than to suggest that since something may have happened previously, then it did in this event, too. The motion says that if the testimony from the 2011 alleged incident were somehow determined to be relevant, it would be more prejudicial than any chance it has of proving something given that the child later said he takes it back and says he was lying.

Assistant prosecutor Parsons said he did not want to comment on the case at this time.

At the time of her arrest, Fayette County Schools Superintendent would not comment on whether Wade’s employment would continue if the charges prove to be accurate. He did say that steps had been taken “to ensure that she is not in contact with students.”

— E-mail: cneff@register-herald.com

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