By: Martha SparksSociety Editor
July 29, 2012
WILLIAMSON — Two teachers and teacher’s aid has been indicted by the Mingo County Grand Jury.
James “Jimmy” Hiram Keatley II, 47, is accused of two counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of battery against one student, and one count of sexual abuse against another student.
The Matewan Middle School math teacher and coach was suspended with pay in December after State Police began investigating allegations that he groped, kissed and made inappropriate comments to two female students.
The indictment said both students are less than 16 years of age.
A special needs teacher, Tina Grace, and a teacher’s aid, Donna Hurst, pleaded not guilty in Mingo County Circuit Court to charges they abused students at Riverside Elementary.
The two were indicted by the Mingo Grand Jury. Grace was charged with two counts of child abuse resulting in injury and one count of misdemeanor battery. Hurst was indicted for one count of battery.
The charges stem from an investigation conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services after allegations the teachers used inappropriate disciplinary methods when dealing with special needs students.
Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks said he was glad the system was being used to protect children.
“I commend the individuals that reported the incidents culminating in these indictments,” said Sparks. “Turning a blind eye, silence and indifference lead to atrocities against children like those that occurred at Penn State University. Protecting children from child abuse and seeking justice for child abuse victims must be of the highest priority.”
Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury set Grace’s and Kurst’s bond at $20,000, with the conditions they have no contact with children less than 18-years-old, outside of family members, and that the defendants take random drug and alcohol screenings.
The teachers’ trials are set for October.
A report by Julia Goad of the Williamson Daily News contributed to this article.