Teacher accused of sexually abusing students
Source: FOX Carolina.comAn upstate middle school teacher is accused of sexually abusing several students. Allenna Williams Ward was a teacher at Bell Street Middle School in Laurens County, South Carolina. Administrators became aware of Ward's alleged activities when notes between her and students surfaced at the school. On and off for the past year, Clinton police say Allenna Ward has been having sexual relations with five young boys.
Ward was an English teacher at Bell Street Middle School in Clinton, and all of her alleged victims are students. One eighth grader we spoke to told us this was the first he had heard about it. Marctavious Hill said, "It was shocking to me that a teacher would do that at our school, it's very surprising."
In a press conference Wednesday, Chief of Clinton Police John Thomas told reporters he is also shocked and dismayed. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and the families. It's very disturbing that this kind of thing is going on," said Thomas. According to police, Ward sexually abused the boys in various places throughout Clinton, SC:
- the Bell Street Middle School
- in a parked car
- the Clinton Motel
- behind the Clock Restaurant
- the Laurens City Park
In an emergency school board meeting, board members voted unanimously to fire Ward. Superintendent Dr. Laura Koskela said, "It's overwhelming for all of us, it's just so sad so many regrets that we have for our community."
Ward has 11 charges against her ranging from criminal sexual conduct with a minor to performing a lewd act on a minor (IOW, she performed oral sex at least six times on one or more of the boys). If convicted and she receives the maximum sentence, she could spend the rest of her life behind bars. Ward is being held on a $110,000 bond. [End of article]
This story is being reported everywhere from CNN to Kansas City Crime blogs, to the Boston Herald. Warrants show Ward is charged with five counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and six counts of lewd acts on a minor. The incidents occurred between December and earlier this month. Ward's attorney, Donald Hocker, didn't want to talk about the case Thursday, according to a woman who answered the phone at his office.
The ordeal started for Mrs. Ward when a note was found (last week) by several students who felt it was inappropriate and turned it over to Bell Street Middle School principal Maureen Tiller.
Tiller turned the note over to the school district office, where officials contacted police, Koskela said. Clinton Public Safety Director John Thomas, who was involved in the local investigation, decided to contact SLED. "Teachers are supposed to be role models as well as being those people who take care of and protect our children," Thomas said. Ward was placed on administrative leave with pay last week and fired after an emergency school board meeting Wednesday, officials said. At the onset of the investigation, Ward sent a text message to one of her victims' cell phone (though we do not know the content of that message).
Last year, an elementary school teacher in school district neighboring Clinton was charged with having sex with an 11-year-old male student. A trial date for Wendie A. Schweikert has not yet been scheduled.
Clinton, SC, a town of about 10,000 people, is about 60 miles northwest of the state capital, Columbia. Allenna Ward's teacher webpage on the Laurens County School System's website has been removed, as her phone extension (#4010). Her picture is also gone from the site. I was able to dig a little and found the following information:
Allenna Williams Ward is a 2001 graduate of Clinton High School and a 2005 graduate of Presbyterian College with a Bachelor of Science in Middle School Education . She taught 7th grade Language Arts. Allena's school email address was firstname.lastname@example.org. I seriously doubt any email sent to this address will be answered, but they will likely be read by the police. ;-) BTW, she and her husband live on Compton Road in Clinton -- very near other Ward family members.