Did teacher sex probe follow rules? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Did teacher sex probe follow rules?

July 19, 2004

Albany-- The Mayor of Albany is asking the GBI to investigate the handling of a sexual assault case involving a Dougherty County school teacher. There are allegations that child abuse protocol was broken during the investigation into former Westover High School teacher Carla Murray.

The school board attorney admits he interviewed the student before charges were filed, but says he didn't break and rules.

Last week, Carla Murray was charged with sexual assault, months after police started investigating her relationship with a 17-year-old male student. Now, Mayor Willie Adams wants the GBI to determine if the student's rights were violated during the investigation.

"Apparently this has been an ongoing problem that has not been exposed properly," said Adams.

The Chairman of the Child Abuse Protocol committee alerted the mayor about the possible protocol violations. There are questions about the way the student was interviewed. The Mayor wouldn't say who might have broken the rules.

But, Dougherty County School Board Tommy Coleman admitted he interviewed the student before the teacher was charged. Coleman says after the principal found love letters in the student's locker, Coleman and questioned the teen, who denied any relationship.

Child Abuse Protocol states: "School personnel generally will not conduct in-depth interviews of children who disclose abuse..."

Coleman says the student never disclosed abuse, but rather school officials came to him. He says the interview lasted just a few minutes with a police officer in the room.

But Child Abuse Protocol Chairman Beth McKenzie questions whether the rules were followed. It will be up to the GBI to decide. Carla Murray is free on $10,000 bond.

posted at 5:50PM by dave.miller@walb.com