Teacher’s assistant pleads not guilty

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, October 15, 2009

A teacher’s assistant accused of sexually assaulting a student at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School pleaded not guilty Thursday.

Paul Andrew Bess requested a jury trial at his arraignment. The trial is set for Feb. 8.

Bess, 59, turned himself in to police and was arrested Oct. 1 and charged with aggravated sexual battery of a child under 13 and indecent liberties with a child in a custodial relationship. Bess allegedly assaulted a 7-year-old child in June.

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Suffolk Public Schools’ Public Information Officer Bethanne Bradshaw said in a release that Bess has been removed from all of his school responsibilities and has been placed on administrative leave.

According to school officials, Bess began working for the school system in August 2006, after completing a successful background check. Bess’ evaluations since that time have been “exemplary,” Bradshaw added.

A bond hearing for Bess was set for Nov. 2. Pre-trial motions are set for Dec. 23.