Principal Indicted By Grand Jury

Jun 26, 2020 at 11:10 pm by WGNS

A grand jury returned indictments against the suspended principal at Walter Hill Elementary accused of child abuse, among other charges.

Helen Campbell was indicted this month by the Rutherford County grand jury on charges of child abuse, child endangerment and tampering with evidence.

The principal and special education teacher Bonnie Marlar were accused of dragging a 10-year old boy by his feet resulting in a head injury. After reviewing security video of the incident in November 2019, detectives charged both with child abuse. However, in February, General Sessions Judge Lisa Eischeid ruled that probable cause was not proved in the charges against them.

County Schools spokesman James Evans, after that ruling, noted the educators would remain suspended pending the resolution of investigations by law enforcement, the Department of Children's Services and the district attorney's office. Evans said, "While the school district cannot complete its internal investigation until the other investigations have concluded, video footage appears to show the student was not attempting to harm themself, any other students or any employees at the time of the incident. However, the footage does appear to show the two employees physically dragged the student off a couch in the office when the student did not appear to be aggressive or threatening to anyone and further shows the two employees then dragging the student by his legs and arms across school floors through multiple hallways to a classroom. The video appears to show the two employees dragged the student approximately 180 yards - the equivalent of almost two football fields in distance."

The investigations since the February ruling by Judge Eischeid led the district attorney's office to bring the case to the grand jury, which handed down the indictment this month. Arraignment in Circuit Court will take place July 6th before Judge David Bragg.

Campbell has worked with Rutherford County Schools since 2001 and as principal since 2013.

Her attorney, Scott Kimberly, after the Judge Eischeid ruling, released a statement.

“The Rutherford County School System has failed its educators and has sent a chilling message to its employees: that any educator may have his or her behavior taken out of context; that any educator may have the protections afforded to them by law trampled by law enforcement; and that any educator may face criminal charges for having the courage to act appropriately in times of need. We have prevailed against these false charges once already and we will continue to maintain the innocence of Mrs. Campbell against this unspeakable miscarriage of justice.”

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