Two Teachers Arrested
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Darlington Police Department has made two more arrests in connection with a child sex abuse investigation.
Correy Wells of Clavon Street in Lynchburg and Brandon Johnson of Marshall Street in Darlington were arrested and charged with Failing to Report Child Abuse or Neglect. Wells and Johnson are teachers at Darlington High School.
According to DPD Chief Danny Watson, the two teachers were approached separately by a student who confided they had been the victim of sexual abuse. Wells and Johnson did not report this allegation to the proper authorities, and Watson says this is in direct violation of South Carolina law.
“State law says that if someone comes to you and alleges abuse, you have to report that abuse. They failed to do that,” Watson says.
The student then approached a third teacher and that teacher took the information to school administration, who contacted law enforcement. Chief Watson says the school district administration was very cooperative in the investigation.
Watson says that once DPD investigators became aware of this situation and looked into it further, they felt there was enough evidence to arrest Wells and Johnson. The specific state law applied in this case explains the responsibilities of certain professions to report signs of physical or sexual abuse:
SECTION 63-7-310. Persons required to report.
(A) A physician, nurse, dentist, optometrist, medical examiner, or coroner, or an employee of a county medical examiner’s or coroner’s office, or any other medical, emergency medical services, mental health, or allied health professional, member of the clergy including a Christian Science Practitioner or religious healer, school teacher, counselor, principal, assistant principal, school attendance officer, social or public assistance worker, substance abuse treatment staff, or childcare worker in a childcare center or foster care facility, foster parent, police or law enforcement officer, juvenile justice worker, undertaker, funeral home director or employee of a funeral home, persons responsible for processing films, computer technician, judge, or a volunteer non attorney guardian ad litem serving on behalf of the South Carolina Guardian Ad Litem Program or on behalf of Richland County CASA must report in accordance with this section when in the person’s professional capacity the person has received information which gives the person reason to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected as defined in Section 63 7 20.
(B) If a person required to report pursuant to subsection (A) has received information in the person’s professional capacity which gives the person reason to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by acts or omissions that would be child abuse or neglect if committed by a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, but the reporter believes that the act or omission was committed by a person other than the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, the reporter must make a report to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
(C) Except as provided in subsection (A), a person, including, but not limited to, a volunteer non attorney guardian ad litem serving on behalf of the South Carolina Guardian Ad Litem Program or on behalf of Richland County CASA, who has reason to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse and neglect may report, and is encouraged to report, in accordance with this section.
(D) Reports of child abuse or neglect may be made orally by telephone or otherwise to the county department of social services or to a law enforcement agency in the county where the child resides or is found.
SECTION 63-7-410. Failure to report; penalties.
A person required to report a case of child abuse or neglect or a person required to perform any other function under this article who knowingly fails to do so, or a person who threatens or attempts to intimidate a witness is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.