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Friday, March 28, 2014

Ind. Decisions - "Supreme Court reinstates ex-principal's conviction"

Yesterday's Supreme Court decision in Christopher Smith v. State of Indiana (ILB summary here) is the subject of a story today by Douglas Walker in the Muncie Star-Press. Some quotes:

MUNCIE — A divided Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated former Central High School principal Chris Smith’s misdemeanor conviction for failing to quickly alert authorities to a student’s 2010 rape.

Last October, the state’s highest court held a hearing on the validity of Smith’s March 2012 conviction, which had been overturned by a state appeals court in January 2013.

Delaware County prosecutors contended Smith violated state law when he failed to immediately alert authorities, including off-duty police officers working at the school as security guards, of a 16-year-old girl’s report she had been sexually assaulted in a Central restroom.

The girl’s attacker — Steven Moore, then 16 — was questioned by Smith, but allowed to go home before police were notified. Moore later admitted to the assault and was convicted of sexual battery and criminal confinement.

“It appears from the record that when time was of the essence, Smith dawdled, delayed and did seemingly everything he could to not contact DCS or the police,” Justice Steven David wrote in Thursday’s 3-2 decision that reinstated Smith’s conviction.

“It is apparent that Christopher Smith failed in his duty to help protect one of his trusted charges,” David wrote. “Whether this failure was out of ignorance, a desire to protect the reputation of the perpetrator, or perhaps a wish to keep his school from receiving negative publicity on his watch is not clear.”

The three judges supporting the majority ruling — David, Mark Massa and Loretta Rush — also rejected Smith’s contention that a call he directed another administer to make to the Youth Opportunity Center, where the sexual assault victim was living, qualified as acceptable notification. * * *

The victim and her mother filed suit over the school’s handling of the sexual assault, resulting in an out-of-court settlement with Muncie Community Schools, and a $750,000 judgment against Steven Moore, who drew a four-year prison term for his crime.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 28, 2014 09:59 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions