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Principal faces sex charge

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Another Dougherty County School System employee is arrested, and charged with a sex crime at the school. The Principal of Southside Middle School, 42-year-old Joey James, is charged with two counts of sexual battery.

Arrest warrants for Principal James say one of the paraprofessionals at the school called Dougherty County School Police and said March 9th at Southside Middle, Principal James touched her breast and buttocks, against her will.

This is the second year Joey James has been principal at Southside Middle School. He has worked in the Dougherty County School system for almost 18 years. The paraprofessional contacted authorities last week.

"Her request was to our Police Department. To investigate him for sexual harassment, but among the things she said caused charges to be filed for the sexual battery,"  said Dougherty County School spokesperson R. D. Harter.

James was not at school today. School officials say he agreed with the superintendent upon a ten days suspension with pay, while school officials further investigate. 

"This is not acceptable behavior. What he has been charged with is not acceptable, and the superintendent looking into the allegations and what will be brought before him to deal with the matter." Harter said.

School officials say they have had no other complaints from teachers or staff against James in the past, but part of the investigation will be to see if any other employees come forward now that he has been arrested. 

"The safety of the children is most important to the system. And we are going to do everything we can to make sure they are not around staff in the school's displaying inappropriate or carrying out inappropriate behavior," Harter said.

The arrest warrants charging James with two counts of sexual battery were signed Thursday. James turned himself in Saturday and was released on two thousand dollars bond.  School officials say Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree was too busy to talk with us today, but that he will be part of an administrative decision made about his status after the next ten day investigation is completed.

Patricia Green is the Assistant Principal at Southside Middle and is in charge at during James' suspension. Once the legal case is finished, the state's Professional Standards Commission will be informed of the findings to decide on his future in education.


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