UPDATE: Former Principal Acquitted in Child Abuse Case

By: WSAZ News Staff; Andrew Colegrove Email
By: WSAZ News Staff; Andrew Colegrove Email

UPDATE 7/23/13 @ 1:50 p.m.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A judge has acquitted a former elementary school principal accused of child abuse.

The bench trial for Cameron Moffett, 46, of Point Pleasant, got underway Tuesday morning. After just a few hours of testimony, the judge acquitted Moffett of the charge.

The charge against Moffett stems back to March 2012, when school bus cameras recorded him pulling an 11-year-old student, Zachary Plants, out of his seat and rolling his down the bus stairs.

Moffett had a bench trial which means there was no jury. The judge heard the arguments and then decided Moffett's fate.



UPDATE 7/23/13 @ 11:20
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va.(WSAZ) -- A former elementary school principal is on trial accused of felony child abuse.

The trial for Cameron Moffett, 46, of Point Pleasant, got underway Tuesday morning.

A jury will not decide Moffett's fate, instead he will have a bench trial, which means a Judge will hear the case and decide if Moffett is innocent or guilty.

The charge against Moffett stems back to March 2012, when school bus cameras recorded Moffett pulling an 11-year-old student, Zachary Plants, out of his seat and rolling his down the bus stairs.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 5/23/13 @ 2:15 p.m.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former elementary school teacher has pleaded not guilty to a felony child abuse charge.

Cameron Moffett, 46, of Point Pleasant, was indicted earlier this month in Mason County for child abuse causing risk of injury.

Moffett was back in a Mason County courtroom Thursday to be arraigned on the charge. Moffett entered a plea of not guilty.

The charge stems back to March 2012, when cameras on a school bus recorded Moffett pulling an 11-year-old student, Zachary Plants, out of his seat and rolling his down the bus stairs.

A pre-trial hearing was set for June 17 at 11:30 a.m. Moffett's trial has been set for July 23 at 9:30 a.m.

A jury will not decide Moffett's fate, instead he will have a bench trial, which means a Judge will hear the case and decide if Moffett is innocent or guilty.

Moffett is still out on bond which he posted back in April 2012 when the incident happened.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/15/13
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former elementary school principal answered his indictment Wednesday for a felony child abuse charge.

Cameron Moffett, 46, of Point Pleasant, was indicted this week in Mason County for child abuse causing risk of injury.

The charge stems back to March 2012, when cameras on a school bus recorded Moffett pulling an 11-year-old student, Zachary Plants, out of his seat and rolling his down the bus stairs.

According to the West Virginia Department of Education, Moffett is no longer a principal, but is still employed by the school system as a director/coordinator of supportive services.

Moffett is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge next week.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/14/13 @ 7:20 p.m.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A principal accused of child abuse after a student was forcibly removed from a school bus has been indicted by a Mason County grand jury.

According to indictments unsealed Tuesday, Cameron C. Moffett, 46, of Point Pleasant, has been charged with child abuse causing risk of injury.

On March 21, 2012, video cameras on a bus recorded Moffett pulling then 11-year-old student Zachary Plants from his seat and rolling him down the bus stairs.

During school hearings last year about the incident, large and outspoken crowds turned out in support and in opposition of Moffett.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/10/12
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- WSAZ.com is learning more about the case of a principal accused of child abuse.

Cameron Moffett, a principal in Point Pleasant, W.Va., was charged with child abuse after an incident with a student on a bus that was caught on surveillance video.

Moffett's case was bound over to the grand jury, but when the indictments came down this week -- he was not on them.

While Mason County Prosecutor Damon Morgan would not confirm nor deny if the case was presented to the grand jury, a source tells us the case was not presented this week.

Morgan tells WSAZ.com this is still an active, pending case.

There is no word if, or when, it will be presented.

Child Protective Services recently investigated the case and said there was no wrongdoing on Mr. Moffett's part. The attorney for the family of the young boy involved says that report was leaked to the media and should not have been made public. They are filing a civil suit to get to the bottom of the situation.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/23/12 @ 6 p.m.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A standing-room only crowd turned out Monday in a Mason County courtroom in the case of a principal charged with felony abuse in the case of a child removed from a school bus.

Surveillance video from the bus led to charges being filed against Cameron Moffett for the way he removed the child from the bus.

Monday was a scheduled day out of school in Mason County, which meant teachers and parents were available to attend the hearing in support of either side, and they packed the courtroom to capacity.

Moffett arrived to the Mason County Courthouse to applause from a crowd of supporters.

“I believe he did what he had to do and I back him 100 percent,” said Glenn Long, a teacher at Moffett’s school.

But, outside the courthouse, it was his opposition that was heard loud and clear.

“No child deserved this. No child deserved to be yanked and pulled and tugged and held down,” said Bethany Vance, Zachary Plants’ aunt.

The incident in question was caught on tape as Moffett tried to remove a clearly upset Zachary Plants off the bus after the 11-year-old repeatedly ignored teacher commands to change seats.

“Did you ever see Mr. Moffett kick, hit, pull or do anything to intentionally harm that student?” asked Jim Lees, Moffett’s attorney.

“No,” responded Jamie Cochran, the bus driver of the bus where the incident happened.

The bus driver and two teachers witnessed the incident and testified. But, in the end, it was a clash of the attorneys that took center stage.

“To charge a teacher or a principal with felony for that? There was no injury, and the law says there must be injury for child abuse to occur,” Lees said.

“And by that abuse creates a risk of bodily injury. Mr. Moffett removed that child from his seat, forced him to the ground and rolled him end over end down the aisle and out the door,” said Sherry Eling, an assistant prosecutor in Mason County.

The judge ruled in favor of the prosecution to send the case to the grand jury for consideration.

“I am thrilled. Justice prevailed, and I am so happy for Zach,” Vance said.

“I'm shocked. For teachers and principals around the state of West Virginia, I couldn't disagree more,” Lees said.

Vance told us Zach has severe ADHD -- a condition Moffett and the teachers are familiar with and have dealt with repeatedly.

The defense attorney argues knowing the child's background puts Moffett's actions into better context. But, the prosecution argued it shouldn't have any bearing on the case.

The next grand jury meets in two weeks on May 7.



UPDATE 4/23/12 @ 9:45 a.m.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The case of the Point Pleasant Principal charged with child abuse has been bound over to the grand jury.

Hundreds showed up for a preliminary hearing for Principal Cameron Moffett.

Moffett is charged with felony child abuse in connection with an incident that was caught on tape on a school bus.

The crowd was so large that the hearing had to be moved to a larger courtroom to accommodate the group of supporters for both sides.

Several witnesses were called to the stand to testify in the case.

Moffett's defense attorney called the bus driver, Ms. Cochran, to the stand. She testified that the student disobeyed Mr. Moffett's command initially and that is when all of the students were asked to leave the front of the bus.

When asked by the prosecutor if she saw Moffett grab the student from the seat and roll him end over end, Cochran further testified that she agreed with that statement.

A 5th grade teacher, Elizabeth Cap, that was on the bus at the time of the incident also testified Monday morning. Cap said that she was the one that asked for someone to call Mr. Moffett to assist with the student. Cap testified further that the student was in an angry tantrum when he came off of the bus an went to the ground on his own.

After all of the witnesses testified -- the defense argued that the charges should be dismissed because an injury has to occur for child abuse charges to be relevant.

The prosecutor argued that the defense was misinterpreting the law and says the child abuse includes the risk of injury.

When both attorneys wrapped up their arguments -- the judge ruled that the case would be bound over to a Mason County Grand Jury.

WSAZ.com's Carrie Cline will have a live report at noon with the latest information.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/23/12 @ 9:45 a.m.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Point Pleasant Principal charged with child abuse is in court for a preliminary hearing.

Principal Cameron Moffett arrived to the Mason County Courthouse to a crowd of more than 100 cheering people.

Moffett is charged with felony child abuse in connection with an incident that was caught on camera with an 11-year-old student on a Mason County school bus.

The hearing was initially going to be held in a smaller courtroom -- but the attorneys asked to move to the lager courtroom to accommodate the large crowd.

Supporters for the child that was involved in the incident are also at the courthouse.

WSAZ.com's Carrie Cline is in the courtroom and is tweeting updates live. Follow her updates on twitter at @wsazcarriecline, follow the feed to the left or follow the hash tag #WSAZ.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/18/12 @ 10 p.m.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A principal in Mason County is accused of abusing an 11-year-old student on a school bus, and it was caught on camera.

However, the principal’s supporters say the video only tells one side of the story.

Point Pleasant Intermediate Principal Cameron Moffett was arrested earlier this month and charged with felony child abuse.

The student’s family is now suing Moffett and the Mason County Board of Education.

On March 21, security cameras on a bus recorded Moffett pulling student Zachary Plants from his seat and rolling him down the bus stairs.

The criminal complaint says once outside the bus, Moffett held Plants to the pavement with his knee to his back.

Mason County Superintendent Suzanne Dickens had no comment, but in an email to county principals, she said she'd reviewed the footage and did not consider Moffett's actions to be child abuse, and she was supporting Moffett.

Those who support the principal say the video first shows the boy causing problems on the bus, with teachers repeatedly telling him to sit down, and he refuses to listen, and they called the principal on board for help.

Plants' family lawyer Mike Clifford says the boy has special needs and was being bullied by other students before Moffett arrived, and there was no excuse for the principal's actions.

"They apparently have little regard for special needs students in Mason County, which is a tragedy," Clifford said.

Students at Point Pleasant High School were supposed to be out of classes Friday to get ready for prom Friday night. Wednesday they learned they'll be off Monday instead.

Some students and parents claim this is all to accommodate staff members who want to attend Moffet's preliminary hearing Monday.

"Some kids were all for it,” Point Pleasant junior Ashley Sayre said. “A lot of other kids were way against it and said it wasn't right, what he'd done, and it wasn't right that they took our prom day away just for that."



ORIGINAL STORY
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A principal in Mason County, W.Va. has been arrested on a felony child abuse charge for an incident that happened at the school.

Point Pleasant Police Chief Ernie Waterson tells WSAZ.com that a warrant was issued for Cameron Moffett last week. Moffett is 45 years old and from New Haven, W.Va.

The charge stems back to an incident that happened at Point Pleasant Intermediate School, where Moffett is principal, on March 21.

According to the criminal complaint, Moffett grabbed an 11-year-old boy by the neck and shoulder with both hands, jerked him out of the school bus seat he was in and forced him to the bus floor. The complaint states that Moffett pushed and shoved the student down the bus aisle and down the school bus steps onto the sidewalk. According to the complaint, once outside the bus, Moffett held the student to the ground with his hand and knee on the student's back.

The boy received an injury to his face during the incident, according to the complaint.

The incident was caught on surveillance tape from the bus.

A warrant was filed for Moffett's arrest. He turned himself in on Friday. Moffett posted a $20,000 property bond to be released.

Another court appearance has not been scheduled at this time.

WSAZ has a call into the Mason County Superintendent's Office.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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