Teacher’s assistant not prosecuted

Published 10:22 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A teacher’s assistant at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School, arrested in October for alleged indecencies with a 7-year-old student, will not be prosecuted at this time.

The move was necessary because the alleged victim is not currently able to testify at trial, said Nicole Belote, prosecutor in the case.

“He isn’t doing well, and we felt it was going to do more harm to him to be put through that, if he could even endure it,” Belote said.

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Bess, 59, turned himself in to police in October after it was alleged he assaulted the student in June. He was indicted on the charges by a grand jury, and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. He requested a jury trial, which had been set for this week.

If the case reaches a point where it can proceed again, charges can be brought back, Belote said. The “double jeopardy” rule does not apply when charges are not prosecuted at this stage.

According to school spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw, Bess began working for the school system in August 2006, after completing a successful background check. Additionally, Bess’ evaluations since that time have been “exemplary,” Bradshaw said at the time of Bess’ arrest.

Bradshaw would not comment specifically about Bess’ case on Tuesday, but said the policy regarding an exonerated employee states he or she is entitled to return to work once documentation confirming that employee’s legal status is received.